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Echo Column: Final budget from a failed Chancellor

This week Chancellor George Osborne presents his final Budget of this Parliament. It's his last chance. With the General Election only around the corner, this is the perfect time to look at the government’s record over the last five years and to consider the plans of the two main parties for the next.

At the very beginning of this Parliament George Osborne brought in measures that hurt working people. Areas like ours saw deep cuts to vital services. At the same time, affluent areas in the south east actually saw an increase in their funding. Osborne then chose to give people earning over £1million an average tax cut of over £100,000.

Now, after almost five years in power and three damaging years of flatlining, it's clear that Osborne has failed to create an economy that works for everyone. This is the first time since the 1920s where people are worse off at the end of the Parliament that at the beginning. 

George Osborne will try and claim everything is going well. But the average worker is £1,600 a year worse off today than in 2010. Millions of people across our country on lower and middle incomes are not feeling any recovery at all. Parents who find childcare costs so expensive it barely adds up to go out to work aren't feeling it. Young people who can't find a job aren't feeling it. Pensioners worried about heating their homes because of rising bills aren't feeling it. 

Labour has a better plan for Britain's future. We will cut the deficit every year and balance the books as soon as possible in the next Parliament. But we will make fairer choices, such as reversing the government’s £3 billion a year tax cut for people earning over £150,000 a year. 

We will take action to help working families who are still facing a major squeeze on household budgets. We will ban exploitative zero-hours contracts, extend free childcare for working parents of three and four years olds to 25 hours a week and cut taxes with a lower 10p starting rate of tax. Too many young people in our community are still out of work. We'll get young people back to work paid for by a tax on bank bonuses. We'll also cut business rates to help small firms who are still finding it tough going. 

The choice for voters on the economy couldn’t be clearer. Labour’s fair and balanced plan to get the deficit down, or the Tories' extreme and risky plan to cut spending back to levels not seen since the 1930s, before there was an NHS.

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