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Thoughts on the Chancellor’s Final Autumn Statement

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You can’t trust the Tories on the economy, that’s the simple fact.

It’s a phoney recovery and a false dawn not felt on Teesside.

Borrowing

The Conservative Chancellor’s figures have unravelled today even since he sat down.

In 2010 David Cameron said “In five years time we will have balanced the books”. That’s a broken promise the country can ill afford.

I am proud of Ed Balls, Labour’s shadow chancellor who took George Osborne’s figures apart like the Economic professional he is.

Conservative back-bench MPs tried to drown him out with heckling and shouting when he stood up, hoping to bring on his stammer, disgraceful behaviour because they don’t want people to know the truth.

Nevertheless, with grit and determination Ed Balls proved that in this Parliament the Conservatives will have borrowed £219billion more than they planned in 2010. Imagine that. That’s not just getting your sums a bit wrong, that’s a massive failure; they have no idea what they are doing with the economy and appear to make it up as they go along.

And that £219bn is not an old problem that is slowly being gotten to grips with, in fact it is set to get worse this year and for the next two  years, these were the facts the Tories don’t want you to know.

Employment

Why are they borrowing so much more? As we all know on Teesside, it is because the jobs people are now in are low paid, part time and zero hours. The Government is paying out on tax credits and housing benefit to top up pay where people should be on a decent wage in a decent job and paying their own way – and they are not receiving anything like the levels of tax and national insurance into the exchequer that they thought they would because people are earning so little.

Cost of living crisis

52 of the last 53 months have seen wages fail to keep pace with prices.

It is a real cost of living crisis with no sign of any improvement on the horizon.

Public spending

The Government’s own Office of Budget Responsibility has said today that public spending is set to fall to the lowest levels since the Second World War, the lowest in 80 years – and that means all the things Teessiders value, like schools, hospitals, police, looking after vulnerable children and older people, even street cleaning is being damaged by cuts. If you think you have too many pot holes in your street, now you know why.

When Government’s talk about cutting expenditure they generally meaning getting rid of jobs because that is what most of the money is spent on. In the North East we have lost 55000 jobs in the public sector since 2010, that’s a lot of people who are really struggling.

Stamp Duty

The reduction in stamp duty for first time buyers and those at the cheaper end of the housing market is a welcome move – it is clear that the Chancellor has been listening to Ed Miliband and Ed Balls about the mansion tax and the need for those in big expensive houses to pay more, and this is his way of achieving that. Ed has said that Labour will keep these changes if we come to power in 2015.

Summary

Austerity measures have been built on the backs of the poor and low earners. Osborne says the top 20% have been asked to pay the most towards austerity measures. What he doesn’t tell you – but the Office of Budget Responsibility told us this afternoon – was that the next hardest hit group was the bottom 20%, those in poverty – and they can least afford to pay off the national debt!

The figures don’t add up, the plan is simply not working and North East people are being left behind. If this is the autumn statement then what we are being offered is shrivelled leaves.

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