Today, we needed a Budget to secure our economy and deliver a real recovery. Instead, we got a Chancellor totally disconnected from the reality of a cost of living crisis.
The Chancellor has piled the biggest tax burden in peacetime on working people. The Tories are taxing working people to make up for their low growth economy and because they want to shield those with the broadest shoulders.
Let’s look at the last decade. The Tories have grown the economy at just 1.8% a year. If we had grown at the same rate as other advanced economies, we could have spent over £30bn to invest in public services without needing to raise taxes. Think of the difference that would have made.
The Chancellor could have backed Labour’s temporary VAT cut to zero for energy bills for the next six months, and could have backed our retrofit programme to reduce energy use and lower bills. He did neither.
Politics is about choices, and it speaks volumes that the Tory Chancellor chose to cut taxes for banks to the tune of £4bn, while the cut to Universal Credit remains. Businesses, especially on our high streets, are held back by outdated business rates, with much-promised ‘fundamental reform’ abandoned by the government.
Since 2010, public services have been cut to the bone and we currently have over 100,000 vacancies in the NHS. For all the talk of pay rises, the government can’t even say if it will exceed inflation. Meanwhile £3.5bn of public contracts have gone to the friends of the Tory Party.
Government ministers spend more time on their excuses than on solutions. The reality is that working people deserve a real recovery. They’ll never get it under a Chancellor who gives with one hand, but takes so much more with the other.
People are feeling the pinch. They are tired of the smoke and mirrors, of the bluster, of the false dawns, of the promises of jam tomorrow. The solution starts with growth – and we know that comes from the bottom up and middle out.
Labour would lead a new era of industrial strategy working hand-in-hand with businesses and trade unions, whereas the Conservatives work with neither. Our climate investment pledge of an additional £28bn a year would meet the challenge of climate change, avoid greater costs of inaction and create the jobs of tomorrow.
We’d tax fairly, spend wisely and after a decade of faltering growth, we’d get Britain’s economy firing on all cylinders. That is what a Labour budget would have done today.