Today’s Budget is a damning indictment of seven years of economic failure from the Tories.
When they first came into power over half a decade ago, we were promised that the UK’s budget deficit would be eliminated by 2015.
Instead, public sector net borrowing this financial year now stands at £50billion, while the national debt has risen to over £1.5trillion -; that’s more than 85% of our GDP.
After his predecessor failed to meet any of his fiscal targets in the last Parliament, Philip Hammond has abandoned all hope of balancing the budget during the current one.
Far from living within our means, the Tories are plunging the UK ever deeper into debt.
This failure to get a grip on the nation’s finances leaves the British economy poorly placed to cope with the turbulence that two years of Brexit negotiations are bound to bring.
It has also led to funding crises in the NHS, social care, local government, schools and policing.
Despite this, the Chancellor today refused to reverse George Osborne’s inheritance tax cuts, which will cost the Treasury £1billion by 2021, and somehow found £320m of extra cash for new grammar schools at a time when state schools are facing a £3billion shortfall.
Meanwhile, working people continue to suffer from chronic low pay, with wages still lower in real terms than before the 2008 financial crisis.
According to the OECD, the UK was the only developed country with a growing economy but falling real wages between 2007 and 2015.
It is a disgrace that in one of the world’s richest countries, six million people are now earning less than the living wage and four million children are living in poverty.
Rising fuel and food prices on the back of a weak pound mean that things are only going to get harder for Britain’s working families.
Another huge failure is the productivity gap between the United Kingdom and Eurozone countries, which narrowed under Labour but has widened again under the Tories.
Compared to the EU average the UK has fallen from four per cent ahead in 2010 to one per cent behind in 2015.
This really matters, as it determines how much companies can pay in wages.
The British people deserve better than this.
I believe we should take a different approach by rebalancing the British economy through strategic investment in infrastructure, housing and employment – all of which would help drive up productivity levels.
Labour will also reverse Tory cuts to education and skills, which are so critical to our future economic prosperity.
The Tories are presiding over a lost economic decade in this country.
Only Labour has the vision to rebuild our economy so that it works for everyone, not just the privileged few.