This week Chancellor George Osborne gave his Autumn Statement to Parliament. After four and a half years in power, this government had more than enough opportunities to fulfil its promises to get the economy moving.
Listening to the Chancellor, you would think everything in the garden is rosy. Tory after Tory boasted about a growing economy, more jobs and more businesses. But the reality is very different. Our economy is not working for all people. Indeed three in four people say they are no better off today, after four and a half years of this government’s failing economic plan.
The plain fact is that many families in Liverpool are feeling squeezed. Wages are not keeping up with prices. People are working harder, longer hours than ever, but not taking home much extra cash. For many workers, jobs are precarious, or based on zero-hours contracts with no guaranteed income each week. Many people, especially young people, are still without work. The Tory economic miracle is no more than a mirage for most people in Liverpool Wavertree.
The Autumn Statement provided little hope. The Coalition has stuck to its guns, regardless of the damage caused and the obvious failures. Ministers do not appreciate the lives most people lead, which are often a struggle to survive.
For example, the Northern Housing Consortium has produced figures showing that there has been nearly a 20 per cent increase in people claiming housing benefit in Liverpool Wavertree, while in work, in order to keep a roof over their heads. The plight of people like this, struggling to keep their heads above water, did not get a mention in the Chancellor’s statement.
The Chancellor promised that living standards would rise across the country. Instead, most working people are on average £1,600 a year worse off, while the richest people have seen cuts to their taxes.
The Tory long-term plan isn’t working. They have missed their own targets. The economy remains weak, with cuts to local councils, local services, and the NHS. In many places public services are starting to crumble, and the Chancellor’s plan will make it worse.
In response to the Autumn Statement, Labour put forward a positive alternative.
Yes, we need to balance the books and keep spending under control. But this can be done fairly, and without punishing the poorest people in our communities.
For example, we will introduce a mansion tax on homes worth over £2 million. We will put a levy on tobacco companies. We will raise an extra £2.5 billion a year to deliver 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more doctors. We will build more homes that people can afford. We will abolish the bedroom tax. Above all, a Labour government will set the country on a different course, where those with the broadest shoulders bear the heaviest burden, and we leave no one behind.