The Tories like to boast about their so-called ‘long term economic plan’ but the truth is David Cameron and George Osborne have now failed every test and broken every promise they made on the economy.
The Government’s failure to tackle the cost-of-living crisis has cost the Exchequer £116.5 billion in lost tax revenue and higher social security spending – almost £4,000 for every taxpayer – new research from the House of Commons Library indicates. This has led to higher borrowing and broken promises on the deficit.
The research shows that low pay and stagnant salaries, combined with soaring housing costs and the failure to tackle the root causes of increased welfare bills, means that over the course of this Parliament:
- Income tax receipts have fallen short of forecasts by more than £66 billion.
- National Insurance Contributions are £25.5 billion lower than expected.
- Spending on social security is £25 billion higher than planned.
Health workers in Ingleby Barwick have told me how the value of their pay has been falling for five years, due to pay freezes and below-inflation rises under this government. Increasing numbers of families are having to use the Thornaby food bank, including those who work. I have also spoken to many Stockton workers who have to top up their low pay with tax credits, putting a strain on the benefits bill.
This Conservative government has done a great job of squeezing the living standards of people on low and middle incomes, but a bad job of squeezing the deficit.
Building a recovery that works for the majority of ordinary people, not just a few at the top, is the real test of the Autumn Statement. But that isn't a separate priority from tackling the deficit; it’s an essential part of balancing the books.
A Labour Autumn Statement would focus on tackling the cost-of-living crisis so that work is properly rewarded again and so that our public services including the NHS are safe.
Our economic plan will raise the minimum wage, expand free childcare for working parents, and cut business rates for small firms.
Let’s all work hard to make sure this is George Osborne’s last ever Autumn Statement.