We’re just 50 days out from the General Election and George Osborne gave what I hope will be his final budget.
I hoped he would talk about real jobs for people and set out a clear plan for this country going forward, where it was the richest, not the poorest, that would bear the load. I hoped he would address the concerns of working people who hear talk of recover, but don’t feel it.
I hoped in vain.
Instead, we got a budget for those that already have. Osborne said that the sun was shining, but the people in our communities have yet to see it.
There was no action to deal with the cost of living crisis. There was no action on wages that are still lower than 2008. Working people are still £1,600 worse off this year. I meet people every day who struggle to make ends meet – but the Tories just don’t care.
He said that the Tories had met his targets and so can be trusted with the economy. But that’s only because they’ve moved to goalposts. In 2010, Labour wanted to be fairer than the Tories, and George Osborne said that we wouldn't do enough. He said Public Sector Debt could be just 70% of GDP. Today he announced it was over 80%. The Tory plan has failed.
But despite this, they want to go on. The OBR say that, under Tory plans, there will be a “…much sharper squeeze on real spending in 2016-17 and 2017-18 than anything seen over the past 5 years”. We can’t afford this roller-coaster economy.
We have a better plan for working families.
Those with the broadest shoulders should bear the biggest burden. That’s why I’m proud to say that we will cut the deficit, by raising taxes on the richest: a Mansion Tax on homes over £2million and re-introduction of the 50p will make sure will make sure that it will be the richest, not the poorest that will help the country get back on its feet.
In Scotland, this also means we would be able to properly support our NHS staff and end the A&E crisis in our hospitals. But there was also something else that was worrying in the figures today. The OBR lowered the oil price forecast to just $65 a barrel by the end of the year. The SNP though it would be at least $113.
Jim Murphy’s been calling for urgent action to support the energy sector in Scotland – a key driver of our economy and in need of help. The government today lowered Oil taxes and the Scottish Government don’t accept there’s a problem.
Today’s budget was bad for Britain and bad for Scotland. It was an attack on the poorest across the country.
There was no commitment to house building – just an inflation of the housing bubble.
There was no protection for workers on zero-hours contracts – just joy they were no longer on benefits.
This was the budget of a Chancellor in denial.
Let’s send him his P45 in May.