This week the Chancellor presented his Autumn Statement (in December!) to Parliament, at which he set out future spending plans. David Cameron and George Osborne have failed every test and broken every promise they’ve made on the economy.
During the debate following his statement, I questioned the Chancellor on his economic record, saying:
“The OBR’s analysis clearly states that borrowing over the forecast period will increase above and beyond what was forecast back in March, predominantly as a result of the reduction in tax receipts. Far from rebalancing the economy, and failing to meet his own deficit reduction targets, the Chancellor is presiding over a low-pay, zero-hours-contract economy in which one in five people—one in three in my constituency—are paid below the living wage. Is it not an insult to the 3 million people on the lowest incomes, and an insult to the value of British fair play, that the Government will be hammering them yet again with a potential cut in tax credits?”
To read the full exchange, click here
On Wednesday evening I appeared on BBC North West Tonight to talk to their political editor, Arif Ansari, about my reaction to the Autumn Statement.
In my comments I said: “There are some good bits of the Autumn Statement, I won’t be churlish, but overall the Chancellor is still borrowing £219bn more than he promised in 2010; £12.5bn more this year and next year and he’s failed his own deficit reduction targets.
I also pointed out that if the Statement’s proposals are not going to affect the one in three constituents of mine who are working on less than a living wage, then it just does not cut it.
Given more time I would have added that George Osborne and David Cameron have now broken every promise they ever made on the economy! They said we’d be all in this together and then they gave millionaires a huge tax cut. They promised people would be better off but most people are not feeling the recovery and working people are now £1,600-a-year worse off under the Tories. And this cost-of-living crisis is why the Chancellor had to admit that his key promise – to balance the nation’s books by next year – now lies in tatters.
Because wages aren’t rising and too many are stuck in low-paid jobs, the tax revenues we need to get the deficit down aren’t coming in. George Osborne has now borrowed a staggering £219bn more than he planned; the economy is set to slow down next year and forecasts for wages increases have been revised down again. Yet the Chancellor still tries to claim that the economy is fixed and his plan is working. Just how out of touch can you get?
What we needed this week was the fairer plan Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have set out: Labour’s plan will raise the minimum wage, expand free childcare for working parents, scrap the bedroom tax and cut business rates for small firms. There will need to be difficult decisions on spending, like cutting the winter fuel allowance from the richest five per cent of pensioners and we won’t make any promises without saying where the money is coming from. But we will balance the books in a fairer way, starting by reversing the Tories’ £3 billion-a-year tax cut for the top one per cent of earners.
Changing stamp duty to help people on middle and low incomes is welcome, but we also need to get more homes built. And to help raise extra funds for our NHS we should ask those in high-value properties over £2 million to pay a bit more each year through a mansion tax. With an extra £2.5 billion a year on top of Tory spending plans we can get the extra 20,000 nurses and 8,000 GPs we need to help transform our NHS. George Osborne’s Autumn Statement was his last before the election. In May 2015 we will have the opportunity to make it his last one ever.