economy

George Osborne is desperate to stop talking about the cost-of-living crisis on his watch – Balls

Ed Balls MP, Labour’s shadow chancellor, responding to George Osborne’s speech on the economy, said:

“George Osborne is desperate to stop talking about the cost-of-living crisis on his watch. But that won’t stop working people from doing so as they are on average £1600 a year worse off under the Tories and prices are still rising faster than wages.

“Nor will the Chancellor admit the reason why he is being forced to make more cuts is because his failure on growth and living standards has led to his failure to balance the books by 2015.

“This failure means Labour will have to make cuts and in 2015/16 there will be no more borrowing for day-to-day spending. But we will get the deficit down in a fair way, not give tax cuts to millionaires. And we know that the way to mitigate the scale of the cuts needed is to earn and grow our way to higher living standards for all.

“The social security bill is rising under George Osborne, but the best way to get it down for the long-term is to get people into work and build more homes. The Tories should back our compulsory jobs guarantee for young people and the long-term unemployed. And in tough times it cannot be a priority to continue paying the winter fuel allowance to the richest five per cent of pensioners.

“What we need is Labour’s plan to earn our way to higher living standards for all, tackle the cost-of-living crisis and get the deficit down in a fairer way.”

The real story of Cameron’s economy

A One Nation programme

Share Ed Miliband’s belief that Britain is stronger, fairer and more successful when it comes together as One Nation.

Ed sets out today six of the key economic Bills that would appear in a Labour Queen’s Speech next week: a One Nation programme with new ideas to begin turning Britain’s economy around.
  

Labour’s economic plans include:  A Jobs Bill to put in place a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee.

  • A Finance Bill that would kick-start our economy and help make work pay with a 10p rate of tax.
  • A Consumers Bill to tackle rip-off energy bills and train fares.
  • A Banking Bill that backs British business with a real British Investment Bank and new regional banks.
  • A Housing Bill that would take action against rogue landlords and extortionate fees in the private rented sector.
  • An Immigration Bill with economic measures that put an end to workers having their wages undercut illegally by employers exploiting migrant labour.

 

 

Birmingham needs a Plan B from Osborne

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To great sighs of relief, at least around the Cabinet table, yesterday we learned that we have just about managed to avoid a triple-dip recession, with growth in the last quarter of a whopping 0.3%. Doesn’t sound that impressive, does it? The truth is that yesterday shouldn’t have been a relief at all. A triple-dip recession shouldn’t even have been a possibility. Yet such has been the failure of George Osborne’s economic plan, it almost seems like a great victory.

The danger is, of course, that George Osborne will see it as exactly that: a victory. We have lost our AAA credit rating with two agencies in the last few months, something which the Chancellor took as a vindication rather than a warning. This bit of relatively good news will no doubt put an extra spring in his step. The reality of the situation is, though, that the economy is still in a bad place – we’re only just back to the same place we were six months ago. The economy is flatlining, and things show no real sign of significantly improving any time soon. Most sectors of the economy are still performing incredibly badly; it’s only the service sector that has shown any real sign of life. Osborne needs new ideas, and he needs them fast.

The consequences of Osborne’s failure are visible right across the country, but they are abundantly clear in our communities in Birmingham. Unemployment remains high, particularly among young people, and welfare cuts and the shameful bedroom tax are being implemented as the cost of living continues to rise. The Guardian has highlighted this week the damage that is being done to Birmingham by the government’s cuts – all of the pain, for no economic gain. What Birmingham and other cities around the country need is a Plan B, with jobs and growth at its heart, to ease the pressure on the people who are suffering under this government. Labour has been saying all along that the government needs to change course, but with each quarter of no growth, no jobs and no hope, the need for a positive economic alternative becomes clearer.

Labour councillors are working hard to get the best deal for our city, but are constrained by the unfair cuts that the government has foisted upon them. It is not just the growth and jobs that are lacking,  but a fair deal for cities like Birmingham.

Our Hall Green councillors and campaigners have been calling for a better deal for Birmingham – it’s time the government took note. The council is being forced to make tough decisions, while leafy, Tory-dominated suburbs take none of the pain. We’re not all in this together and we’re not one nation. Birmingham residents are one the receiving end of the damage caused by the government’s economic failure and its refusal to give Birmingham a fair deal.

So Birmingham, and the country, need a Plan B. We all see that Plan A has failed, but the Chancellor sticks stubbornly to it. We need two things: firstly, we need jobs and growth, to get our economy moving again and to ease the burden on Birmingham households; secondly, we need the government to give Birmingham a fair deal instead of prioritising their own heartlands. We desperately need something to change. To borrow a phrase from David Cameron, we can’t go on like this.

Made by the Many

Watch Ed Miliband’s vision for an economic recovery made by the many…

We need an economy that works for working people not just the few at the top. That isn’t the economy we have at the moment. Economic growth is flatlining, nearly one million young people are out of work and prices are rising faster than wages. Yet David Cameron is prioritising a tax cut for millionaires while working people pay more.

Labour will support working families and act to bring down household bills.

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Osborne’s budget will offer cold comfort to ordinary people in Hall Green

george-osborne-image-2-306799915The Chancellor, George Osborne, has just delivered his annual budget statement to the House of Commons. It is his fourth budget since the government came into power in 2010 and, in the words of Ed Miliband, ‘one thing unites them all; things are always worse than the last time around’.

Growth has been downgraded yet again to just 0.6% this year, borrowing is up again, but despite this and the bad news that just keeps coming from the Treasury, Osborne refuses to change course. Every sign of failure he takes as a vindication; every time it is proved that the plan is not working and is hurting ordinary people, Osborne the ideologue becomes more determined to see it through. Rather than trying to make things fairer for the many, not the few, the downgraded Chancellor remains ideologically committed to giving a tax cut to the richest in society in just two weeks’ time, at the same time as ruthlessly cutting welfare and implementing the incredibly unfair and deeply flawed bedroom tax. This is a Chancellor convinced he can recover our economy by squeezing the poor and easing the burden on the rich. He is wrong.

The truth of this budget is that ordinary working people will suffer while those at the top remain untouched. The few concessions that were made, such as the scrapping of the fuel and beer duty escalators, will have negligible impact while the overall cost of living continues to rise due to inflation. The continuation of the 1% cap on public sector pay increases, well below the rate of inflation, means that many people will struggle to afford a decent standard of living over the coming years; on average, private sector wages also continue to increase at a level significantly below inflation. Raising the income tax threshold to £10,000 should be welcomed, but the Chancellor should go further by reducing the basic rate. A cut in VAT back to 17.5% would also encourage growth and give people more spending power with the money they do earn. A plan for jobs and growth, something which Labour has consistently outlined, should have been at the heart of this budget. It was notably absent.

The confirmation of the £72,000 cap on care costs is another example of Osborne’s ignorance of the needs of ordinary people. The reality is that the cap is set so high that it will make little difference to most people who are forced to pay for care for themselves or for their elderly relatives. Today George Osborne could have taken the opportunity to listen to advice from Andrew Dilnot, who wrote the Government’s report on funding social care, amongst others and implemented a considerably lower cap, but he refused.

The budget has proved once more that the government is not on the side of ordinary, hard-working people and families. A downgraded Chancellor who stubbornly sticks to his failing plan is hurting those who most need help while continuing to curry favour with those who need it least. While bankers in the City of London have never had it so good, ordinary people in Hall Green and across Birmingham suffer the consequences of the Chancellor’s failure.

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