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Toby’s speech on the budget

Toby’s speech on the budget, delivered in the House of Commons on Wednesday 19 March 2014 18.09:

“At a time when people are facing a choice between heating and eating, the sight of those ignorant, braying public school boys on the Tory Benches during the response by the Leader of the Opposition showed the contempt that they have for the serious issues that people in myconstituency are facing. The speech by my right hon. Friend Edward Miliband spoke far more to the real issues faced by my constituents than did the hour-long lecture that we heard from the Chancellor today.

This is the Chancellor’s fourth Budget and people in Chesterfield know what to expect: a recovery for the few, not the many; a denial that the cost of living crisis is engulfing British families under his watch; and a steadfast refusal to take action on the key issues facing our economy. He said today his core purpose was the economic security of people in Britain; well, he has a funny way of showing it. He should know that despite the increase in the tax threshold, the combination of the VAT increase, the failure to take action on uncompetitive markets, the low wage, low security economy he is creating, and the slowest recovery in history mean that people are poorer under the Tories.

Budget 2014For those feeling the pinch, as families are £1,600 worse off under this Government, there was precious little here. For families struggling with the cost of child care, there was a promise that after five years of rising prices things will get better if only people are fool enough to vote for the Tories a second time. For those who cannot afford a deposit as house prices spiral, there is nothing about tackling the lack of supply but further measures that could increase the prices. For the small business owner desperate to grow and branch out but who has been refused loans by all the major high street banks, there is nothing about the access to finance crisis.

These stories are all too familiar to people in Chesterfield, but their plight is not a by-product of the Chancellor’s plan; it is the Chancellor’s plan. He thinks that Britain’s economy can grow only by winning a race to the bottom, but an economy built on insecure work, zero-hours contracts, and fewer rights in the workplace is a castle built on sand, trapping people between an insecure workplace that seems to say that working people should just be grateful for any work they can get and a benefits system that shatters their dignity and crushes their spirit.

The Chancellor said that each job makes a family more secure. Well, not under this Government it doesn’t, because many of the 5,000 people who rely on food banks to feed them are in work. The increase in the number of people in work and in poverty is a national disgrace. Under this Government work is not the route out of poverty it once was.

The Chancellor promised us the pain he inflicted on our families would be worth it because two parties had come together to eradicate the deficit, but today we learn that his central purpose—the reason we put up with this Government—which is deficit eradication is still £90 billion away. We should remember what the Office for Budget Responsibility told us back in 2010. It told us that by the end of this Parliament we would have seen growth of 14.6%. Well, from quarter four of 2010 until now growth has been just 3.5%. The deficit will still be £75 billion by 2015-16. The Chancellor’s failure means he has increased the national debt more in three years than Labour did in 13 and he has failed in respect of the cost of living for working families and he has failed to take action on the energy companies.

We know from a ComRes survey released just this Sunday that a pitiful 9% of the public say their ability to pay their monthly bills has improved since the Chancellor entered No. 11 Downing street, and what about yesterday’s Survation poll showing that, when the poll was restricted to people in work, Labour held a 17% lead? Let there be no doubt which is the party for workers. The Chancellor’s priorities could not be clearer: take food from the mouths of families living in poverty to fund a £100,000 cut for his friends in the City earning over £1 million a year.

As shadow pubs Minister it would be churlish of me not to welcome the Chancellor’s temperance when it came to alcohol duty this year, although we should remember both that he is the Chancellor who raised most from the beer duty escalator that he kept for three Budgets, and that his increase in VAT added more to the cost of a pint than the increase in beer duty has done.

On business rates, what we have seen is a Conservative con trick: a £1,000 discount while the underlying rate of business rates is going up—a bomb waiting to go off under the high street recovery. In two years’ time those levels of business rates will have continued to go up and the discount will just disappear if anyone is foolish enough to vote for this Government again. Businesses’ key concerns in respect of the Budget were crystal clear: all the major business groups’ Budget submissions said there must be action on access to finance, yet we have seen absolutely nothing.

This Government are in denial. They cannot understand why people are not thanking them for the recovery they are delivering, but the truth is people know that evidence of the recovery is not appearing in their pockets. We desperately need a jobs guarantee, and Labour’s jobs guarantee will not only take young people off the scrapheap, but it will end the cycle of hopelessness that sees young people trapped in life on the dole. They will not be further impoverished by benefits sanctions, but will have a positive role that says to the young, “You should be at work. We’ll fund the job, you’ve got to take it.”

This was the Chancellor’s last chance, but, again, when the moment arrived he flunked it. Trapped in an analysis of Britain’s problems that is fundamentally wrong, it is hardly surprising he came up with the wrong answers. People struggling with the cost of living yesterday will still be struggling tomorrow. Parents kept out of the jobs market by the cost of child care have been told to hang on until 2015. For big business struggling with access to finance, absolutely nothing. This Government have run out of ideas; let’s have an election.”

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I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF


I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
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