“The Government’s disastrous handling of the virus has caused one of the world’s deepest economic collapses, yet they expect the vast majority to pay for it—including through further cuts to public services of £15 billion per year compared with last year’s plans.”Richard Burgon MP.
The Budget should be judged on one key issue: whether it improves the living standards of the vast majority of people in this country.
On that, it has failed.
With a pay freeze for key workers, the poorest families facing universal credit cuts, 1 million lower-paid workers having to now pay income tax, and council tax rises.
Living standards have faced an assault over the past decade, and that is set to continue.
Average wages will be no higher in 2026 than in 2008: almost two lost decades.
The Government’s disastrous handling of the virus has caused one of the world’s deepest economic collapses, yet they expect the vast majority to pay for it—including through further cuts to public services of £15 billion per year compared with last year’s plans.
Despite the need to treat a huge backlog and to fund ongoing vaccine schemes, the Government will also cut the national health service budget back to pre-pandemic levels.
It will also mean an axe to unprotected areas, such as local government, which is already cut to the bone.
The Government may counter that they are fixing the economy and that a higher tide will lift all boats. That is simply a lie.
The Budget will see Britain continuing as a low-growth—just 1.7%—economy once the end-of-lockdown boost wears off.
We have low growth, falling living standards and hollowed-out public services. For most people, I am afraid that it will feel very similar to the last decade,
But it does not have to be.
This should have been the Budget to invest massively in growth, in tackling inequality, in jobs, in tackling the climate crisis, in rebuilding our public services, in social housing and in moving us to a high-skill, high-wage economy.
Instead, public investment will remain pathetically low, and the main stimulus is a £25 billion corporate handout that may bring business investment forward but, as the Government’s figures show, will not increase overall investment levels.
Those funds should instead have gone into a huge state investment programme also funded by record low borrowing costs and taxes on the super-rich, starting with a 50% rate on those on over £125,000.
That could spur a shift to net-zero with a green new deal, build modern transport and infrastructure fit for the 21st century, lead to a mass house building programme, and renew our public services
Boosting growth, which is the best way to pay off the debt, but also creating decent jobs and helping to rebuild communities left behind for far, far too long.
That should have been the legacy coming out of this crisis, and that is what we on this side of the House will need to fight for.
- This is based on Richard’s speech in the Budget debate in Parliament,