With the Autumn Statement due to be announced by the Chancellor the Tories have the opportunity to atone for their mistakes and put Britain on a fairer and more sustainable road to recovery. The Tories have broken their promise to balance the books by 2015, with the next Labour Government set to inherit a large deficit as a result
Their failure to deliver on this central goal is fundamentally linked to their failure to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. Despite Tory claims that our economy is fixed, wages continue to stagnate for many workers and too many of the jobs that are being created are in low-paid, insecure work, rather than in high-paid, high-productivity sectors.
Our public finances are being weakened as a result. Low and stagnant pay means that tax receipts have been much lower than expected. New figures, published today, highlight the extent of the Tories’ failure. Income tax receipts across the Parliament are set to fall short of their 2010 expectations by more than £66 billion. And receipts from National Insurance Contributions are a further £25.5 billion lower across the same period.
Low pay is then combining with higher housing costs and failures to deliver benefit reform to drive social security costs higher. The Tory-led Government is now set to spend £25 billion more on social security than planned in 2010, including £1.4 billion more than it budgeted for on housing benefit for people in work. And because working families on low pay are relying on tax credits to make ends meet the Government is now set to spend £5 billion more than it planned on tax credits over the course of this Parliament. The combination of lower tax receipts and higher benefit spending has led to higher borrowing and the Tories breaking their promise.
Unlike David Cameron and George Osborne, Labour recognises the fundamental link between the living standards of everyday working people and our ability to deal with the deficit. That’s why the Autumn Statement this week needs to show how we can deliver a recovery for the many not just a few. That is the test this week for David Cameron and George Osborne.
Labour is clear that we need an economic plan that can earn our way to rising living standards for all, not just a few. That’s why we have set out a plan to deliver stronger growth and more good jobs paying decent wages. In this way we can earn our way to higher living standards for all and get the deficit down. That’s why a balanced and fair plan to get the deficit down must have more good jobs, rising living standards and stronger growth at its heart, alongside difficult decisions on spending and tax.
Labour will deal with the cost-of-living crisis and help working families share in the wealth of our country, so when the economy grows, the wages of everyday working people grow at the same rate. And we’ll tackle low wages by halving the number of people on low pay in our country, changing the lives of over two million people.
We want to build a stronger and more balanced economy: by getting 200,000 new homes built a year, reforming our banks and ending the dither on big decisions with an independent infrastructure commission.
We will back the next generation by boosting apprenticeships. We will make work pay and tackle insecurity by raising the minimum wage, banning exploitative zero-hours contracts and expanding free childcare for working parents.
And we’ll back British businesses by cutting business rates for small firms and arguing for Britain to stay in a reformed European Union.
Labour’s plan will balance the books and get the national debt falling as soon as possible in the next Parliament. And we will do it in a fairer way by reversing that huge tax cut for millionaires.
We will make difficult decisions like scrapping winter fuel payments for the richest five per cent of pensioners, cutting ministers’ pay by five per cent and capping child benefit rises at one per cent for two years. And through our Zero-Based Review of every pound spent by government, we are showing how we will make different choices when money is tight.
Unlike the Tories – who have made £7?billion of unfunded tax pledges – we have made no promises without saying where the money is coming from. Our manifesto will have no commitments paid for by additional borrowing.
A recovery for the many would mean we can balance the books in a fairer way: this is what David Cameron and George Osborne have failed to deliver in the past four years. The Tories could make a start by admitting they have failed. But it will take a Labour Government to make it happen.