Listen to this article

00:00

00:00

Falling economic growth is weighing most heavily on the poor, the disabled, single parents, the homeless and the indebted, said Jeremy Corbyn, the UK opposition leader, said in his response to the Budget.

The Conservative government had no solutions for the “misery” experienced by millions of struggling people across the UK, said Mr Corbyn said.

Pay was lower than in 2010 and wages were falling, he said, and economic growth in the first three quarters of this year was the lowest since 2009. “It’s a record of failure with a forecast of more to come,” said the Labour leader.

Under Tory leadership, economic growth, productivity, wages and living standards had been revised downwards, he pointed out.

Most MPs have fallen in line behind Mr Corbyn after a rocky start to his leadership since Labour outperformed expectations in the June general election and gained 30 seats. But many sat in silence behind him as he worked his way through a mostly pre-prepared speech.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, had warned MPs at their weekly meeting on Monday that Labour is still less trusted than the Tories on the economy.

Yet there appears to be public support for Labour’s economic prescriptions, involving more money for public services and infrastructure, funded mostly by higher taxes on corporations and the very rich.

“The reality test of this Budget has to be how it affects ordinary people’s lives,” Mr Corbyn said. “I believe as the days go ahead and this Budget unravels, the reality will be a lot of people will be no better off and the misery many are in will be continuing.”

Mr Corbyn criticised the extra money for the National Health Service, saying a Labour government would have provided more.

As for the changes to the universal credit system, Mr Corbyn called for it to be put on hold for a more thorough review.

He also criticised the lack of a general pay rise for the public sector, where staff were underpaid, overstressed and under-appreciated. “The chancellor has not been clear today — not for NHS workers, our police, firefighters, teachers, teaching assistants, bin collectors, tax collectors or armed forces personnel.”

Mr Corbyn said Mr Hammond’s housing measures would fail to address the lack of council homes being built, glossing over the fact that housebuilding levels started to slide at the end of the last Labour government. “We need a large-scale publicly funded housebuilding programme, not this government’s accounting tricks and empty promises,” he said.

The Labour leader also ridiculed the chancellor’s claim to be spending generously in the regions, saying that Yorkshire and Humber, for example, received only a 10th of the transport investment — per head — of London. “Combined with counterproductive austerity this lack of investment has consequences, it’s sluggish growth and shrinking pay packets.”

Other measures, such as the lower rise in business rates than expected and the stamp duty cut for first-time buyers, had been lifted from the Labour manifesto, he said.

“We were promised with lots of hype a revolutionary Budget, the reality is nothing has changed,” he told the Commons.

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.