An astonishing set of Tory failures: top Labour figures give their verdict on key Autumn Statement measures

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£122bn of extra borrowing by 2021 and growth downgraded for next year

John McDonnell, shadow chancellor: “The figures speak for themselves: growth down; wage growth down; investment down. The deficit target, failed. The debt target, failed. The welfare cap, failed. The verdict could not be clearer. The so-called ‘long term economic plan’ has failed.”

No new money for the NHS

Jon Ashworth, shadow health secretary: “It’s jaw-dropping that when the NHS is facing the biggest financial squeeze in its history – when waiting lists are at four million, when A&Es are in crisis – there was not a single penny piece of extra investment for the NHS. When it comes to Tory priorities, the NHS yet again at the back of the queue.”

Brexit

Pat McFadden, supporter of the Open Britain campaign: “Today, for the first time, there was an official cost placed next to the referendum outcome. Today, the real picture of Britain’s post-Brexit economy emerged – borrowing up, growth down, investment lower, prices higher. The eye-watering £58.7bn Brexit borrowing bill means less money for public services, not more as we were promised. The government must now do everything it can to safeguard jobs and investment, which means rejecting a hard and destructive Brexit.”

£1.4bn to build 40,000 affordable homes

John Healey, shadow secretary of state for housing: “These astonishing figures in the small-print of today’s official Office for Budget Responsibility report show that the overall effect of the Autumn Statement housing changes will be 13,000 fewer affordable homes. This blows a hole in the claims made by the Chancellor today. After we learnt last week that new affordable housebuilding has fallen to its lowest level in 24 years, Ministers must now urgently sort out this mess and get Britain building again after six years of failure.”

£240m to expand the number of grammar schools

Lucy Powell, former shadow education secretary: “The prime minister is abandoning the evidence on what works for social mobility by ploughing extra cash into her pet project, the expansion of selective education. Grammar schools will not provide the game-changer we need to boost social mobility and in many cases, hamper progress for the most disadvantaged children where they exist. Rather than waste money on a policy for which there is no evidence, she should instead re-allocate this cash to safeguard and expand nursery school provision. There are real concerns about their future viability because of changes to government funding. Nursery schools have a genuinely transformative effect on the most disadvantaged children with a proven track record of closing the developmental gap that exists pre-school. Ministers are backing the wrong horse to win the social mobility race and should adjust their priorities accordingly.”

National living wage to rise from £7.20 to £7.50 per hour next year

Tom Blenkinsop, MP for Middlesborough South and East Cleveland: “While the Autumn Statement was trailed as a budget for those ‘just about managing’ it appears that the increases in the national living wage and changes in tax will be outweighed by freezes in wages and benefits and increases in costs of living due to inflation.”

The crisis in social care 

Barbara Keeley, shadow minister for social care: “It’s astonishing that this Autumn Statement has failed one of the key challenges facing the Government: the funding crisis they’ve created in social care. The Tories have ignored the chorus of voices pleading for them to address the mess they’ve created with their cuts of £4.5bn to social care budgets. It’s a scandal that they’ve not offered even a penny more to support this vital service. You can’t trust the Tories with social care and the NHS.”

Scotland

Kezia Dugdale, leader of Scottish Labour: “The new powers of the Scottish Parliament mean we don’t need to implement Tory tax choices. Scottish Labour opposes the increase in the higher rate tax threshold at a time when spending on public services like schools and hospitals is being cut. It’s the wrong priority at the wrong time. Scottish Labour has repeatedly called for a 50p top rate of tax on the richest few earning more than £150,000 a year, so we can invest in education. That’s the right choice for Scotland.”

 

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