I sat through George Osborne’s Budget speech this week – and I was not happy. I believe I had the distinction of being the only Member of Parliament to be named by the Deputy Speaker for my particularly angry challenging of the Chancellor.
I uploaded a video to Facebook to highlight just how appalled I was that the Tories were letting down a whole generation – so far it has had more than 2,500 views. Some say that barracking and heckling in the Commons is disrespectful – I say that in doing it, I am standing up for my constituents.
The Chancellor thinks he can fool the British public. But this week’s Budget exposed the reality that the Conservative party is not, as he claims, the party of the working people.
This was a Budget from a politician wanting to grab the headlines to further his own ambitions rather than putting Britain first. The priority should be to help those in work but we now see that the Budget has hit working people in the pocket, reducing the tax credits millions rely on.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies announced that Osborne’s decision to cut tax credits, will hit 3 million families. Their analysis supports what the Labour Party have been saying all along. We cannot underestimate how important tax credits have been to many people on low incomes and to cut them will severely reduce their quality of life.
In my Denton and Reddish constituency, 4,700 working families with children claim tax credit. That’s 56% of families that receive this vital support.
When Labour introduced tax credits it gave benefit claimants support to move into work. However the Chancellor’s reforms are effectively a penalty on work, reducing the very incentive for people to get a job.
To soften the blow he announced his so-called living wage. But this too is unravelling as it becomes clear it is nothing of the sort. It is just an increase in the national minimum wage that we introduced. Labour welcomes the Tories’ finally responding to our calls to increase the national minimum wage.
We agree that getting a good paying job is the best way out of poverty. But the fact is this increase cannot provide full financial compensation for those affected by his cuts to tax credits. A couple from my constituency in full-time work on the minimum wage with two children may gain £1,560 in salary, but they will lose over £2,200 from cuts to tax credits.
Despite Osborne’s claim, this policy will do nothing to help increase the income of families such as this and it definitely won’t help the 2 million under-25s who the Tories’ have excluded from the new minimum wage.
If the Chancellor really wanted to secure higher wages for everyone he would have delivered a budget to tackle productivity. Boosting productivity is a much better guarantee of increasing the amount people earn.
Britain has a huge problem in this area, with our productivity levels revised down next year and for three years after that. The Tories’ had a chance to tackle this in the budget but they came up with no solutions.
So overall it will be low income working families in Tameside and Stockport who will bear the biggest burden of Osborne’s Budget.
This should have been a Budget to help people into work and make it pay. Instead it was political tactics from a Chancellor whose idea of a “long-term plan” is a move from 11 Downing Street to No10. Britain deserves better.
So yes, I am angry. The response from my constituents on Facebook suggests I am absolutely right to challenge the Chancellor in this way.