George Osborne’s Autumn Statement didn’t get off to a good start, writes Labour Parliamentary Candidate, David Ellesmere. With December generally being regarded as winter that was one target he’d missed before he even stood up.
There were plenty more, but you wouldn’t have known it from the speech he delivered.
That’s not the experience of most people I speak to in Ipswich. And so it proved to be. Most of the claims George Osborne made started to fall apart within twenty four hours.
He claims to have a long term economic plan but, if that’s true, by any measure it has failed.
In 2010 he said he would balance the books by the end of this Parliament. He has missed this by a mile and has borrowed a staggering £219bn more than he planned, losing Britain’s AAA credit rating in the process. He has borrowed more in the last four years than the last Labour Government did in thirteen.
Not mentioned in his speech, but sneaked out later, was an admission that Government borrowing is going to be higher this year, and next, than predicted.
The reason is simple and one that will be understood by most people in Ipswich: the economic recovery is only benefitting a minority.
For most people, wages aren’t rising and many of the new jobs that have been created are part-time, low-paid and insecure. Working people are £1,600 a year worse off than in 2010. So the tax revenues needed to get the deficit down just haven’t materialised and benefits payments to top-up the pay of people in work have gone up.
George Osborne’s “long term economic plan” is for this situation to continue. Figures from the Government’s own Office for Budget Responsibility show that wages will still be below 2008 levels in 2020.
The end result is that, under David Cameron and George Osborne, the cuts will continue right the way through the next Parliament. And not just small cuts. If you take all of the cuts implemented so far this Parliament, the Tories are planning one and a half times more after the General Election.
These cuts have rightly been described as “colossal” by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies.
The level of Government spending planned by the Conservatives hasn’t been as low since the 1930’s and that, remember, was before the NHS and the welfare state.
The Tories haven’t said where most of these cuts are going to hit – they know it would be far too unpopular.
But the cuts the Tories they have announced, needless to say, are targeted at the people who can least afford it. One example is changes to the Universal Credit working allowances which mean low paid workers will be losing out by more than £700m a year by 2018.
Millionaires, meanwhile, have had their taxes cut and were promised even more in the Autumn Statement.
It doesn’t have to be this way. A Labour Government would balance the books in a fair way. It would increase the National Minimum Wage to £8 an hour and incentivise employers to pay the Living Wage. It would ensure 200,000 new homes a year are built to get housing costs down. It would bring in increased income by introducing a Mansion Tax on homes worth more than £2m and reversing the £3bn tax cut to the top one percent of earners.
It’s time everyone benefited from the economic recovery, not just a few at the top.