December 10, 2013 - Bill Esterson MP's Westminster Diary

Bill Esterson



One central fact was confirmed in the Autumn Statement: working people are worse off under this Tory-Lib Dem government. Working people are now on average over £1,600 a year worse off since Prime Minister, David Cameron came to office. 

But David Cameron and his chancellor, George Osborne are so out of touch they have chosen to give people earning over £150,000 a huge tax cut.

Prices have risen faster than wages for 40 of 41 months while David Cameron has been in Downing Street and today’s figures show that real wages will have fallen by 5.8% by the end of this Parliament.

For millions of families there is still no recovery at all.

After three damaging years of a flatlining economy, the cost-of-living crisis is set to continue with prices forecast to rise faster than wages until 2015. The economy is still well below the level it hit before the global financial crisis. In the United States, in Germany and in France, growth has been steady so that there has been a recovery in both the economy and in living standards. 

But not in this country.

The Tory-Lib Dem government is now struggling to catch-up with Labour's strong policies on the cost of living. But the half-measures announced in the autumn statement show they simply don't understand the cost-of-living crisis which affects most people in Formby, Crosby and Maghull.

Britain can do better than this. What we needed from the Tories and the Lib Dems was Labour’s long-term plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and earn our way to higher living standards for all. 

Under our plans we would see action to get more homes built, expand apprenticeships and back small firms by cutting business rates – our approach would ensure we have a strong recovery that's built to last. But the chancellor announced an increase in business rates and nothing to help build new homes or help create the apprenticeships our young people need.

Labour would also take action to make work pay by expanding free childcare for working parents and a compulsory jobs guarantee for young people and the long-term unemployed. And Labour's plan to freeze gas and electricity bills while we make long-term changes to the energy market would give real help to people struggling to pay their energy bills. Instead we have seen a policy which will still see bills rising this winter and lets the energy companies off the hook.

The Government promised to “balance the books” by 2015, but borrowing will be £79bn that year.

Over this Parliament borrowing is forecast to be £198bn more than planned at the time of George Osborne’s first spending review.

The government asked us to judge them on their record and on their promise to cut the deficit. The reality is that the Tories and Lib Dems have failed to cut the deficit because they made the wrong choices when they formed the coalition government in 2010. Ordinary people are paying the price of the mistakes made by this government and face a cost of living crisis. That crisis means lower wages and higher prices. 

Labour would freeze energy prices, we would cut business rates for small businesses, we would scrap the cruel bedroom tax and we would make sure young people are in work. We would also give tax breaks to firms that pay the living wage to help businesses raise wages for millions of workers on low pay.

During the debate on the Autumn Statement, I told the chancellor George Osborne that for most ordinary people the reality about the economy is that they face a cost of living crisis. The people struggling to pay their bills in Formby, Crosby and Maghull need to see rising prosperity. Otherwise, the recovery will pass them by. So far, a few people at the top have seen the benefits of government policy. What my constituents really need is a government that looks after the many. That’s exactly what Labour would do.