The Chancellor has failed by his own measures. He promised to get rid of the deficit and failed. He promised a march of the makers and a recovery in manufacturing industry. He failed. He promised a Northern Powerhouse and failed to invest in transport, housing, broadband and energy. He promised to crack down on tax avoidance and evasion and did a sweetheart deal with Google. George Osborne has cut the incomes of the many working people and pensioners in this country while giving handouts to a few of the very wealthy. The Chancellor's approach shows he is out of touch. Sadly, the government record so far is heading in the wrong direction.
George Osborne should be judged by what he promised. In 2010, he said he would get rid of the deficit in five years. By 2015, there was a black hole of £18bn in the public finances, while the deficit was going up and had reached £90.2bn.
He promised a “march of the makers”. He promised that manufacturing would lead the recovery in our economy. But manufacturing is in recession and we have a growing trade deficit, meaning we are not exporting enough and are importing too much. The difficulties in manufacturing are a big part of the problem. Meanwhile, construction output fell in January of this year. He has failed to support key parts of our economy and both manufacturing and construction are struggling.
In 2011, he first announced the electrification of the railway from Leeds to Manchester. Last year it was paused, without having started. His talk of a Northern Powerhouse, has been just talk and a shortage of technical skills means that he cannot deliver his promises even if he wants to.
He promised to crack down on tax avoidance and tax evasion. Yet, he has done a deal with Google, which generated £130m while the Italian government is set to collect £1bn. Meanwhile, small businesses see tax increases and cuts to grants including the growth accelerator, which have been successful at supporting manufacturing and jobs in small and medium sized firms up and down the country.
The chancellor has given councils in the wealthiest parts of the country like Surrey, millions of pounds more, with not a penny extra for Merseyside. Sefton Council has had its budget cut by nearly half. In Liverpool, its even higher. Yet the extra cash went to councils who had had no cuts at all.
Meanwhile, the chancellor gave tax handouts to those being paid more than £150,000 a year while cutting the pay of 2 million of the poorest working families by £1,600 through cuts in Universal Credit.
George Osborne has failed on his own measures. And that failure is being paid for by the many working people in this country and by businesses.
We need our government to invest in skills, in transport, housing, broadband and energy. We should support responsible businesses of all sizes who want to create good well paid jobs.
Government’s priority should be a successful economy, supported by high quality public services. The Chancellor has refused to borrow to invest in the infrastructure of our country. This is one reason for his failure to deliver by his own measures. There is a compelling business case for investment at historically low interest rates, which will produce a return on investment for our economy. Businesses borrow money to invest. Home owners borrow money to buy a house. Both do so having demonstrated the ability to repay money. Governments should do so too and this government is making a big mistake in refusing to take a business like approach to investing for the future.
The approach of the Chancellor shows he is out of touch and unable to deliver for young or old, those in work or in retirement, for businesses, public services or for the voluntary sector. We need a change of approach, that invests in our economy and in our future. Sadly, the government record so far is heading in the wrong direction.