Corbyn criticises ‘broken promise Budget’ as he warns austerity remains
Jeremy Corbyn criticised Philip Hammond for delivering a “broken promise Budget” as he insisted austerity needs to end because it has failed.
The Labour leader said eight years of austerity has “damaged our economy” and delayed the recovery, adding the Government has not abandoned the policy despite the Chancellor’s latest spending pledges.
Leading the response to the Budget, Mr Corbyn also said the proposals announced will “not undo the damage done” by the squeeze on spending.
He told the Commons: “The Prime Minister pledged austerity was over – this is a broken promise Budget.
“What we’ve heard today are half measures and quick fixes while austerity grinds on.
“And far from people’s hard work and sacrifices having paid off, as the Chancellor claims, this Government has frittered it away in ideological tax cuts to the richest in our society.”
Mr Corbyn added: “The Government claims austerity has worked so now they can end it.
“That is absolutely the opposite of the truth – austerity needs to end because it has failed.”
Mr Corbyn later said the “precious” NHS is a “thermometer of the wellbeing of our society”, adding: “But the illness is austerity – cuts to social care, failure to invest in housing and slashing of real social security.
“It has one inevitable consequence – people’s health has got worse and demands on the National Health Service have increased.”
Mr Corbyn also condemned the “horrific and vile anti-Semitic and racist attack” in Pittsburgh, noting: “We stand together with those under threat from the far-right, wherever it may be, anywhere on this planet.”
The Labour leader criticised pay levels for public sector workers, adding: “Every public sector worker deserves a decent pay rise, but 60% of teachers are not getting it – neither are the police nor the Government’s own civil service workers.”
The economy is also being damaged by a “shambolic Brexit”, Mr Corbyn added.
Nicky Morgan, Conservative chairwoman of the Treasury Select Committee, said Mr Hammond had a difficult job but has offered solutions – something she said Mr Corbyn failed to do.
Mrs Morgan welcomed announcements on business rates in the Budget but pushed for a “more fundamental look” at the issue in the future.
Concluding her remarks, she said: “This was a Budget that right at the start the Chancellor said was for the strivers, the grafters and the carers.
“I fully understand and endorse his desire to build an economy that works for everyone, and we look forward to asking him further questions about this in the scrutiny sessions ahead.”
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said austerity would remain under the Conservatives, and claimed the Budget leaves Britain “wholly unprepared” for Brexit.
He told the Commons: “This Budget leaves us wholly unprepared for the Brexit bombshell heading towards us. It fails to protect current and future generations.
“An end to austerity, said the Prime Minister: Scotland’s budget will have been slashed by £1.9 billion since the Tories came to power.”
He said austerity was a “political choice” and told MPs it had “not ended”.
“Austerity remains under this Tory Government. This Tory Government continues to balance the books on the shoulders of the poorest and the most vulnerable, yet they continue to give away tax cuts.”
Mr Blackford attacked the Chancellor for failing to stop the roll-out of Universal Credit, instead investing an extra £1 billion.
“The Chancellor could have done the right thing today,” he said.
“He could have halted and fixed Universal Credit but instead he has failed to go far enough and put money in the pockets of those who desperately need it.
“The Chancellor’s increased spending on Universal Credit is nothing but a drop in the ocean, putting a sticking plaster on a wound that needs to be re-dressed.
“His failure to halt and renew Universal Credit means more people will be left behind – left in poverty, left in hardship and left struggling by a Conservative government.”
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) PA Wire.