December 17th, 2014

My column in the Morley Observer

Very best wishes for Christmas to all Morley Observer readers.

My diary has been full of local festive engagements over the last couple of weeks. And having signed a small mountain of Christmas cards, I am definitely getting into the festive spirit.

Over at Morley Elderly Action on Friday there were the usual Christmas fun and games. Ann, Carole and the team were hosting lunch for their Friendship Group complete with bingo and their Christmas Raffle. And on Saturday I must have handed out hundreds of mince pies at Morley Asda where we were accompanied by a fabulous brass band too.

My Santa suit has also been busier than usual this year. I always attend the Kingsland Special School Christmas Party and the House of Commons Kids Party. But this year Santa did an extra visit to the Leeds-based SNAPs Christmas Party for children with learning disabilities across the city. It was a lovely party with parents and children from across the city coming together to get ready for Christmas.

On Saturday I also popped into the Royal Mail sorting office in Morley to thank staff for all their hard work in the busy festive season. As you might expect, Christmas preparations at Royal Mail were a vision of efficiency and organisation. James’ team were busy doing the final mail sort of endless letters cards and parcels before setting out on their delivery rounds. Postmen and women do a vital job all year round, but at Christmas their load is significantly bigger and heavier than normal.

Once we’ve all written our own cards (and thankfully mine are all now done!), it’s easy to forget that someone has to walk up each drive or garden path to deliver them.
Thank you to all those Royal Mail workers putting in the extra time and energy over Christmas.

Staff at DePuy Synthes in Tingley were taking the festive season seriously too – albeit having rather fewer miles to walk than our local posties. I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite so many Christmas jumpers all in one place. There were elves, reindeer and even a flashing Christmas tree! I had popped in to find out about their work and to speak to staff, but even Stan who showed me round was sporting a fabulous Christmas jumper complete with Christmas puddings, candy canes, holly and Christmas trees!

The company develops and distributes around a third of the artificial knees and hips used in the NHS – from here in Morley. It’s amazing to see and hold in your hand something that can transform the quality of life of a patient once it’s been fitted in an operation.

Twenty years ago patients needing one of these operations would have been waiting over 18 months for a new hip or knee. But getting these kinds of waiting times down was a top priority of the last Labour Government because it not only has a massive impact on people’s quality of life, but also because long waits can trigger other health problems and so cost more too. Over just over a decade waiting times for new hips and knees went down from 18 months to 18 weeks.

As some readers will know, I’ve been holding meetings across my constituency about the NHS in recent months. This Friday I’ll be hearing what residents in Drighlington and Gildersome think. One Gildersome couple have told me how stressful they find trying to get a GP appointment because they work full time. Another woman, who works in the NHS, wrote to tell me about the increased stress levels for staff in support roles.

These are familiar stories from the meetings I’ve had so far. Our NHS has become so precious to us all because in any given week, most of us have a family member who has used the NHS or works in the health service. So it’s so helpful to me to hear from patients and NHS professionals first-hand about their experiences.

I’m using the findings from these meetings to inform all the work I do in Westminster on behalf of local people. Thank you to everyone who’s completed and returned an NHS survey over the last few months or come along to one of my meetings.

And a Happy New Year to one and all.

Posted December 17th, 2014 by Ed
December 15th, 2014

My response to the publication of the Charter for Budget Responsibility

Once again, a silly political stunt by George Osborne has totally backfired. David Cameron has just given a speech attacking Labour’s target to get the current budget into surplus. But this is exactly what they are putting to a vote in this new Charter.

In the Budget George Osborne talked about a vote on balancing the overall budget. Today he and David Cameron have done a staggering U-turn on this vote and are now proposing a vote on the current budget, excluding capital investment. This is the same measure of the deficit the Labour Party has been committed to targeting for the last three years. They have also changed the fiscal mandate from being a ‘target’ to an ‘aim’.

We said in January that we want to get the current budget into surplus and national debt falling as soon as possible in the next Parliament. This Charter is consistent with our position so we’ll vote for it. We’re not going to change our view about what’s in Britain’s best interests because of one of George Osborne’s silly games.

Labour will cut the deficit every year and get the current budget into surplus, and the national debt falling, as soon as possible in the next Parliament. How fast we can go will depend on the state of the economy, including what happens to wages, growth, the housing benefit bill and events around the world.

But our approach will be very different to the Tories. There will need to be sensible spending cuts in non-protected areas, but we will make fairer choices including reversing the Tory tax cut for millionaires and our plan will deliver the rising living standards and stronger growth needed to balance the books.

In contrast the Tories are pursuing an increasingly unbalanced and extreme approach. They have chosen to pencil in even deeper spending cuts, which would return public spending to a share of GDP last seen in the 1930s.

They are refusing to ask those with the broadest shoulders to make a greater contribution and ignoring the need for a plan to deliver the rising living standards that are vital to getting the deficit down. And they have now made £7 billion of unfunded tax promises, which can only be paid for by even deeper cuts to public spending or another Tory VAT rise.

This is a complete own goal for the Chancellor. Perhaps George Osborne should spend less time thinking up silly political games which end up backfiring and more time sorting out the economy and trying to make his sums add up.

Posted December 15th, 2014 by Ed
December 12th, 2014

My 2014 Christmas Card Winner!

Huge congratulations to Rachael Colbeck, this year’s winner of my Christmas card competition. Rachael is in year six at Stanley St Peters Primary School and drew a beautiful picture of Father Christmas and a snowman against a night sky.

Once again this year, hundreds of children the competition. But Rachael’s brilliant design stood out from the rest and will soon be brightening up mantelpieces right across the country

Over the next week or so I’ll be sending thousands of cards to schools and local businesses across Wakefield and Leeds as well as to the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Rachael won copies of her winning card to give to family and friends as well as a bag of House of Commons goodies.

Congratulations Rachael and Happy Christmas!

Posted December 12th, 2014 by Ed
December 11th, 2014

My letter to the Shadow Cabinet

Dear Shadow Cabinet colleague,

As we discussed yesterday, the Autumn Statement confirmed that David Cameron and George Osborne have now broken all of their promises on the economy.

They promised people would be better off, but while those earning over £150,000 have been given a £3 billion a year tax cut, working people are now on average £1,600 a year worse off since 2010.

The continuing squeeze on living standards has led to tax revenues falling short, which is why George Osborne has had to admit that his promise to balance the books by next year will be broken. He is now set to have borrowed £219 billion more than he planned and government borrowing next year is forecast to be £75 billion.

This presents a huge challenge for the next Labour government. As Ed Miliband and I have said, we will balance the books where this government has failed and do so in a fairer way. We will cut the deficit every year, and deliver a surplus on the current budget and falling national debt as soon as possible in the next Parliament. But we will take a different approach to balancing the books than the Tories.

It’s now clear the Tories have abandoned any pretence of being in the centre-ground with an increasingly extreme and unbalanced plan. They have made an ideological choice to pencil in deeper spending cuts for the next Parliament because they are refusing to ask those with the broadest shoulders to make a greater contribution and, crucially, are ignoring the need for a plan to deliver the rising living standards and more good jobs that are vital to getting the deficit down.

In contrast, Labour will take a tough but balanced approach to getting the deficit down. Our economic plan will deliver the rising living standards, more good jobs and stronger and more balanced growth which are a vital part of any fair and balanced plan to get the deficit down.

We will make different and fairer choices from the Tories, including reversing this government’s £3 billion a year tax cut for people earning over £150,000 and taking action to close tax loopholes and introducing a mansion tax on properties worth over £2 million in order to help save and transform our National Health Service.

And unlike George Osborne, we will not make any spending or tax commitments without saying where the money is coming from.

But as we have discussed a balanced plan to reduce the deficit will also require spending cuts.

We have already set out a number of the difficult decisions we will have to take, including scrapping the winter fuel allowance for the richest five per cent of pensioners, cutting Ministers’ pay by 5 per cent and capping child benefit rises at one per cent for two years.

We have already made clear that the NHS will be a priority for the next Labour government – including with our plans to raise £2.5 billion a year for Time to Care Fund, on top of the Tory spending plans we inherit. We also have a long-standing commitment to spending 0.7% of national income on overseas development aid. We will set out for our manifesto other priority areas of spending which will be protected.

In the meantime you should be planning on the basis that your departmental budgets will be cut not only in 2015/16, but each year until we have achieved our promise to balance the books.

Of course all departments have been taking part in the Zero-Based Review of every pound spent by government, because even priority areas of spending which will be protected should be looking for waste and efficiencies that mean resources can be prioritised for the frontline.

A number of departments have already shown how, in the context of reduced budgets in the next Parliament, they can make different choices which will allow frontline services to be better protected. For example, the Shadow Home Affairs team has set out how it will make nearly £250 million of savings – including by scrapping elected Police and Crime Commissioners and mandatory joint purchasing of equipment by police forces – in order to better protect frontline policing.

Chris Leslie’s cross-departmental work has also set out how we will look to sell government buildings and assets where there is a value for money case for doing so and seek to move more civil service jobs out of London in order to help make savings and rebalance our economy too.

We will be publishing further interim reports from the Zero-Based Review in the coming weeks and months.

These are the elements of Labour’s tough but balanced and fair plan to get the deficit down: a credible and sensible goal for balancing the books, a plan to change our economy, making tough but different choices on spending and taxation, ensuring those with the broadest shoulders bear the greatest burden, and not making any unfunded spending or tax commitments.

It is in sharp contrast to a Tory approach which has failed in this Parliament and which is set to be increasingly unbalanced and extreme if they win the election.

Yours sincerely,

Ed Balls

Posted December 11th, 2014 by Ed
December 6th, 2014

Small Business Saturday in Morley – my YouTube video

We have some fantastic businesses here in Morley. And today the town was packed with people doing their Christmas shopping. Watch my video about my support for Small Business Saturday here:

Posted December 6th, 2014 by Ed
December 4th, 2014

Labour have got a fairer way to balance the books than Tories – my response to the IFS briefing on the Autumn Statement

The continuing squeeze on living standards is the reason why George Osborne has failed to get the revenues in to balance the books.

As the IFS says tax receipts have been revised down by £25 billion by 2018/19, largely because of weak wage growth. This is why the public finances are even more challenging in the next Parliament and now George Osborne has chosen to pencil in even deeper cuts. He also wants us to believe he can find £7 billion a year to pay for his unfunded fantasy tax promises. No wonder everyone is now saying the Chancellor’s sums don’t add up.

Labour will take a balanced approach to getting the deficit down. There will need to be spending cuts, but we will make different choices and our plan will deliver the rising living standards and more good jobs we need to get the deficit down.

We will get the current budget into surplus and the national debt falling as soon as possible in the next Parliament. That will mean difficult decisions on spending, like cutting the winter fuel allowance for the richest five per cent of pensioners and capping child benefit rises at one per cent for two years. Our Zero-Based Review will continue to examine every pound spent by government to root out waste and find savings.

But Labour will make different and fairer choices, starting by reversing this government’s £3 billion a year tax cut for people earning over £150,000. We will have a mansion tax to help save and transform our NHS and scrap elected police commissioners to help protect frontline policing.

And most importantly we will change our economy so we can deliver the rising living standards we need to get the revenues in to get the deficit down. Our plan will raise the minimum wage, get more homes built, cut business rates for small firms and raise the bank levy to expand free childcare for working parents.

This is the balanced approach we need if we are to get the deficit down and do so fairly. And unlike George Osborne we will not make any promises without saying where the money is coming from.

Ends

Posted December 4th, 2014 by Ed
December 4th, 2014

Labour have got a fairer way to balance the books than Tories – my article in the Mirror

The Autumn Statement gave us the final proof, if it was ever in doubt. George Osborne and David Cameron have now broken every promise they ever made on the economy.

They promised we’d be all in this together. But then they gave ­millionaires a huge tax cut.

They promised people would be better off. But most people are not feeling the recovery and working people are now £1,600-a-year worse off under the Tories.

And this cost-of-living crisis is why the Chancellor had to admit that his key promise – to balance the nation’s books by next year – now lies in tatters.

Because wages aren’t rising and too many are stuck in low-paid jobs, the tax revenues we need to get the deficit down aren’t coming in.

As I revealed in the House of Commons, George Osborne has now borrowed a staggering £219billion more than he planned.

And the economy is set to slow down next year and forecasts for wages increases have been revised down again.

Yet the Chancellor still tries to claim that the economy is fixed and his plan is working. Just how out of touch can you get? What we needed yesterday was the better and fairer plan Ed Miliband and I have set out.

Labour’s plan will raise the minimum wage, expand free ­childcare for working parents, scrap the bedroom tax and cut business rates for small firms.

There will need to be difficult decisions on spending, like cutting the winter fuel allowance from the richest five per cent of pensioners.

And we won’t make any promises without saying where the money is coming from.

But we will balance the books in a fairer way, starting by reversing the Tories’ £3 billion-a-year tax cut for the top one per cent of earners.

Changing stamp duty to help people on middle and low incomes is welcome, but we also need to get more homes built. And to help raise extra funds for our NHS we should ask those in high-value properties over £2million to pay a bit more each year through a mansion tax.

With an extra £2.5billion a year on top of Tory spending plans we can get the extra 20,000 nurses and 8,000 GPs we need to help transform our NHS and save it from the Tories.

George Osborne’s Autumn ­Statement was his last before the election. Let’s now make it his last one ever.

Posted December 4th, 2014 by Ed
December 3rd, 2014

My column in the Morley Observer & Advertiser

The Morley lights are on and shops are bursting with Christmas sparkle. Everyone wants to make sure the kids have a great Christmas. But for many, when money is already tight, it can put even more strain on the family budget.

Incomes have been under real pressure in recent years as a result of the cost of living crisis – the price of everything has gone up and wages just haven’t kept up. The number of local people contacting my Morley office for this kind of advice has also increased dramatically.

And it’s not just me. As my office deals with an increasing number of cases, Citizens Advice and the Leeds Welfare Rights have also seen a huge increase in demand for their services.
But funding budgets are tight too. Most of the funding for Citizen Advice services comes from Leeds City Council. And as many readers will know, budgets for Leeds City Council have been reduced by over £94 million since 2010. And with budgets set to be reduced still further and demand still rising, pressures is really growing.

So when I learned a couple of weeks ago that our Citizens Advice Service at Morley Town Hall might be threatened I was extremely concerned and immediately contacted their team to find out more.

The Morley Citizens Advice Bureau is currently open on Mondays and Wednesday 10am to 1pm for anyone to call in to access the services they offer. Staff and volunteers do an amazing job, providing free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to anyone on their rights and responsibilities.

On Friday, along with Cllr Neil Dawson and other local councillors, we met the local Chief Executive, Dianne Lyons to find out what might be happening to services in Morley.

We all agreed that with more and more people needed to access their advice and services, and with further reductions in funding expected next year, the local Citizens Advice Service are right to look at how they can work differently and more efficiently so they can better meet people’s needs. But we were also all clear that Morley needs to retain its own service so that local people can continue to get access to the advice and information they need from Morley Town Hall.

The good news is, that, although the service might be changing, Citizens Advice will work more closely with their partner agencies such as Leeds Welfare Rights to actually expand the service and increase the amount of time during which people can access the service locally.
And as well as our Citizens Advice Service, my office is also open Monday to Friday for local people who need advice or assistance. Anyone who needs to contact me should email ed@edballs.com or call the office on 0113 253 9466.

*******

Our very own Susan Hanley joined me on Friday for a Mencap “Hear my Voice” event to protect the rights of people with learning disabilities across our area. In a packed Morley Town Hall, she led the questions to me from Mencap service users about how politics could make itself more accessible.

“Use simple words” one person suggested. “Take on the issues that matter to us, like the Bedroom Tax” said another. “Why isn’t it a hate crime to attack a person with a learning disability?” was another question.

I did my best to answer all the questions – Although I really don’t know why hate crimes on disabled people aren’t currently treated as a hate crime – they should be!

So I want to see the law changed so that hate crime against disabled people is treated like other hate crimes. And as I’ve written in this paper many times, I want to see the Government’s ghastly bedroom tax scrapped as soon as is humanly possible.‎

Anyone who’s ever met Susan will know what a champion she is for the rights of people with learning disabilities. She’s not party political but believes passionately in giving people a voice. So much so that for the last three years I’ve written to the Mayors of Morley, urging the Town Council to use her expertise to ensure the rights of people with learning disabilities are properly represented locally.

It’s another opportunity for Morley to show the country how things can be done for the good of the whole community. I really hope Susan can play a bigger role on the Town Council. She is a real asset for the town.

Posted December 3rd, 2014 by Ed's team
December 3rd, 2014

My response to the Autumn Statement

The House has not yet seen the detailed documents from the Treasury and the Office for Budget Responsibility tables. I am sure they will arrive shortly.

But I have listened carefully to the Chancellor’s statement.

And in order to establish the facts, I want to start by asking the Chancellor questions on issues that are vital for our country’s future, on living standards and wages, tax receipts and borrowing, growth and immigration, and taxation and the health service.

Living Standards

First, on living standards.

Wages have not kept pace with prices for 52 of the last 53 months.

Today’s forecasts from the OBR confirm that wage growth is once again weaker than expected.

Working people are now £1600 a year worse off than they were in 2010.

Someone in full-time work is now £2000 a year worse off.

Mr Speaker, for working people there is a cost-of-living crisis.

And that squeeze on living standards is not only hitting family budgets.

It has also led to a shortfall in tax revenues.

The OBR confirms that stagnant wages and low-paid employment have hit revenues.

This is what the OBR says:

“weaker-than-expected wage growth so far in 2014-15.. [is].. depressing PAYE and NICs receipts.”

So let me ask the Chancellor first of all: does he agree with the OBR’s analysis?

Can he tell us – this year how much tax revenue has been lost because of stagnating wages and forced part-time employment?

Borrowing

Mr Speaker, the result of this shortfall in tax revenues is that – once again – I believe the Chancellor has had to revise up his forecasts for Government borrowing.

The Chancellor has today told the House that the deficit for this fiscal year is now expected to be £91.3 billion.

But he did not set out in detail much worse things are since the Budget.

So in his answer can he tell the House, how much has borrowing this year been revised up compared to his Budget target?

Back in 2010, the Chancellor and the Prime Minister pledged to balance the budget by the end of this Parliament and see the national debt falling this year.

The Prime Minister said in 2010, and I quote:

“In five years’ time, we will have balanced the books.”

Today the Chancellor has, I believe, announced the deficit next year is forecast to be £75.9 billion. Can the Chancellor confirm that number?

And the fact that the national debt next year is forecast not to fall but to rise?

And can I ask the Chancellor – because while he has clearly missed his targets, he did not give us the scale to which he has missed them: how much more will he have borrowed in this Parliament than he planned in 2010?

Growth and Productivity

Mr Speaker, the reason why wages, incomes and borrowing have been hit so hard is because productivity growth has been so weak.

But today the Chancellor has announced he is forecasting growth not to accelerate but to slow down next year.

I know the Chancellor wants to blame the poor growth performance and poor productivity growth on the Eurozone.

I share his ‎concerns about the Eurozone – we do need a plan for stronger growth in Germany and across the Continent.

But the weakness of the Eurozone cannot explain why, despite the notable successes of a number of our companies, our export performance has been so poor – and so much worse than other Eurozone countries.

Since 2010, our export performance has not only been 16th in the G20 but in the EU it’s actually been 22 out of 28 countries. Three quarters of EU countries have done better than us.

Business investment, which has also lagged behind our competitors, actually fell in the last quarter.

Bank lending to small businesses is falling.

The number of apprenticeships for young people is actually falling this year.

House-building under this government is at its lowest level since the 1920s.

And on infrastructure, for all the Chancellor’s reheated re-announcements, barely a fifth of projects are ‘in construction’ and since 2010 infrastructure output is actually down over 11 per cent.

Mr Speaker, on business rates, on the R&D tax credit, on APD we welcome the action the Chancellor has taken. We will support what the Chancellor has proposed on Air Passenger Duty.

I would like to ask the Chancellor about the Air Passenger Duty proposal. We will support what he has proposed but following the Smith Commission proposal to devolve Air Passenger Duty to Scotland, will the Chancellor urgently lead work across government, working with the Scottish Government on a mechanism to ensure that English airports, particularly in the north of England are not disadvantaged by that devolution.

Let me also say on business rates, while the review is welcome, it won’t report until I believe until 2016. Why can’t the Chancellor take immediate action and adopt our plan to cut business rates for small companies?

But why won’t he increase the bank levy and adopt our plan to extend free childcare for working parents from 15 to 25 hours per week? Why won’t he properly capitalise the Business Investment Bank?

Why won’t he raise as a proportion of earnings the national minimum wage faster than earnings?

And why won’t he repeat the bank bonus tax to guarantee a compulsory job for all young people?

On regional devolution why won’t he devolve full growth in business rates to give city and county regions real control?

We need a plan for more good jobs and more balanced growth.

And on the subject of growth the figures the Chancellor announced actually reveal growth has been revised down. In 2016 from 2.6% to 2.2%; down in 2017 from 2.6% to 2.4% and in 2018 from 2.7% to 2.3%. Why is growth being revised down year after year after year?

The OBR figures show, this is an interesting fact from the OBR – if our economy grew by just half a per cent faster than forecast, government borrowing would come in over £32bn lower in the next Parliament.

Doesn’t the Chancellor see those downgrades to growth are bad news. Without decisive action to sustain growth and get living standards rising – a recovery for the many, not just a few – he is going to carry on missing his own deficit targets year after year after year?

Immigration

And let me ask the Chancellor about another missed target.

Over the past twelve months, net migration to the United Kingdom has been 260,000 more people.

Can the Chancellor tell the House, what is the OBR estimate for net migration over the next twelve months that underpins the growth and public finance forecasts?

It seems highly unlikely that it’s going to be anywhere near the Prime Minister’s forecasts of the tens of thousands.

Is it going to be over 100,000 next year? Over 150,000? Over 200,000?

And, this time, did the Chancellor remember to tell the Prime Minister what the facts were?

Spending and Taxation

Turning to spending and taxation, the Prime Minister claimed in the Times newspaper a month ago that 80 per cent of the planned spending cuts had been made.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies says it is less than 50 per cent.

Can the Chancellor clarify who’s right and who’s wrong?
He claims he can cut welfare spending by £12bn in the next parliament.

But in this Parliament spending on social security is now over £20bn higher than he planned in 2010, because of what’s happened to housing benefit in particular.

He is now planning a £3billion real terms cut in tax credits that will hit 3 million working people on middle and low incomes and once again he is hitting women harder than men.

I’ve got to say the Prime Minister rather let the cat out of the bag earlier when he referred to maso-sadism, as I understand it, maso-sadism is someone who enjoys having pain inflicted upon them and enjoys inflicting pain on other people. We know the Chancellor’s views on the first Mr Speaker, it rather seems from the way he smiled when he announced the tax credit cuts he is rather enjoying the second as well.

How can it be fair to hit working people with a £3 billion cut to their tax credits when he’s spent £3 billion giving a tax cut to people earning over 150k? How can that be fair?

And when families are paying £450 more a year in higher VAT, does he really think people will fall for the Prime Minister’s latest promise – of a £7 billion unfunded tax cut in the next Parliament, which even the Business Secretary has called a fantasy?

Two months on, the Chancellor gave us no details at all of where he is going to get the money from. Not a single penny.

Is he planning to pay for it with a further rise in VAT?

He said at the weekend he’s got ‘no plans’ to raise VAT. That is what he said before the last election – and then he raised it after the General Election.

He should stand up at this Despatch Box today and promise that he will not raise VAT again on families and pensioners.

NHS


And on the NHS, we welcome his belated recognition that there is a funding crisis.

Everyone knows, other than the Prime Minister it seems, our health service is going backwards – A&E waiting times are going up, GP waiting times are going up. Thanks to their £3 billion reckless reorganisation.

The Chancellor announced £2 billion pounds every year, which he said was into the future, paid it seems by an underspend, every year into the future. I’ve never heard of a prospective forecast of an underspend done in quite that way.

Can he confirm that his £2 billion a year is over a flat, real base line for the NHS? We need to know the answer to that one Mr Speaker.

He’s also confirmed that the £700 million of crisis-cash is actually a renouncement of a reallocation from within the existing Department of Health budget.

What we have seen today from the Chancellor, with his Stamp Duty reforms, he has now accepted, welcomingly, that high value properties are under-taxed in our country.

But rather than taxing them only on sale, why doesn’t he have the courage of his convictions?

The average person pays 390 times more in annual council tax, as a percentage of their property, than the billionaire buyer of a £140million penthouse in Hyde Park.
Why won’t the Chancellor have an annual charge on the highest value properties and use that for an extra £2.5bn a year in the NHS so we can have an extra 20,000 nurses and 8,000 GPs?

Why won’t he match that commitment?

Our National Health Service deserves a fully-funded long-term plan – not just more short-term sticking plasters.

Fiscal Vote

And then we heard the Chancellor’s diversionary stunt.

He has today had to admit he has failed to balance the books in this parliament.

He’s now trying to divert attention with a vote on balancing the books in the next parliament.

At the time of the Budget though, he talked up a vote on the overall budget surplus.

But I understand from reports in the Financial Times that he’s done a U-turn and retreated to a vote on a current budget surplus in the next parliament.

Can he explain what’s going on? What’s the nature of the problem he is dealing with?

We want to get the current budget back into surplus as soon as possible in the next parliament, and get the national debt falling.

But the lesson of this Autumn Statement is that a plan to balance the books will only work if it puts good jobs, rising living standards and stronger growth at its heart.

But I’ve got to say Mr Speaker, the Chancellor’s diversionary tactics won’t work.

Because since he has sat down I’ve now received the Office for Budget Responsibility’s Economic and Fiscal Forecast.

And in table 1.2 on page 15 they actually set out in detail how the latest fiscal forecast compares to the forecast at the time of the Budget.

And it gives us the numbers which the Chancellor failed to tell us in his Autumn Statement. So Mr Speaker, I will give the country and the House the numbers which the Chancellor failed to give us.

Compared to his Budget target, it’s here on page 15, table 1.2, borrowing this year has not gone down it’s has been revised up by £4.9bn. Revised up by £4.9 billion this year.

Next year, it’s revised up by £7.6 billion. Over two years he’s revised up borrowing by £12.5 billion.

And the answer to my other question- this means that the Chancellor will have borrowed in this Parliament £219 billion more than he planned in 2010. £219 billion.

It’s all here in black and white – hard evidence from the OBR that the Chancellor’s borrowing targets are all in tatters.

We can all know that the he’s changed the way he styles his hair.

But he can’t brush away the facts.

People are worse off. And that’s why he’s failed to balance the books.

Conclusion

I’ve got to say for all his strutting, all his preening and all his claims to have fixed the economy.

He promised to make people better off – and working people are worse off.

He promised we were all in this together – and then cut taxes for millionaires.

He promised to balance the books in this Pparliament – and today that pledge lies in tatters.

Every target missed.

Every test failed.

Every promise broken.

We need a recovery for the many, not just a few.

We need to balance the books in a fair way.

And a long-term plan to save our NHS.

That is the Autumn Statement we needed.

And it will take a Labour government to deliver it.

Ends

Posted December 3rd, 2014 by Ed
December 2nd, 2014

David Cameron and George Osborne have now failed every test and broken every promise they made on the economy

David Cameron and George Osborne have now failed every test and broken every promise they made on the economy.

They promised living standards would rise, but while millionaires have got a huge tax cut working people are £1600 a year worse off under the Tories. This cost-of-living crisis is why the Chancellor will have to admit he has broken his promise to balance the books by next year.

A Labour Autumn Statement would set out a better and fairer plan to deliver a recovery that works for the many and not just a few.

Labour’s economic plan will raise the minimum wage, expand free childcare for working parents, get more homes built and cut business rates for small firms.

We will balance the books in a fairer way, starting by reversing the £3 billion a year tax cut for the top one per cent of earners.

And we will save and transform our National Health Service with a fully-funded long-term plan. We will raise an extra £2.5 billion a year to deliver 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs – a commitment the Tories refuse to match.

Posted December 2nd, 2014 by Ed