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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:23 pm on 23rd March 2011.

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Photo of Rachel Reeves Rachel Reeves Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 5:23 pm, 23rd March 2011

I do agree. Of course, only half the plans were announced today, which was disappointing.

We need an approach to business taxation that fosters growth. Although the Government have trumpeted the cut in corporation tax, it has so far been funded at the expense of investment and manufacturing allowances, so while big businesses have benefited from a tax cut, start-up and investment-intensive firms have seen their taxes rise. If we are to create the jobs of the future, we need today’s entrepreneurs to innovate and that is where the limited funds should be targeted.

We also need greater investment in skills and education. Last year, 8 million people graduated from universities in China and India. No other country is cutting investment in universities, reducing the teaching grant by 80% and cancelling partnerships between business and universities, but that is what the Government are doing.

Last week, we heard that the youth unemployment figure is approaching 1 million and it beggars belief that the future jobs fund is closing its doors in the same month that youth unemployment has risen yet again. One in five young people—more in my constituency—now claims unemployment benefit. Today’s unemployment figures are likely to rise further and today’s Budget is bad news for young people up and down the country.

The public recognise the need for austerity, but they also want to know that the Government have learnt lessons from the crisis and are determined to build a fairer and more sustainable economic future. Britain could be a world leader in the jobs, technologies and industries of the future but only if the Government support growth. Today was the Chancellor’s opportunity to show that he understands the needs of businesses and families, but the OBR’s verdict was to downgrade growth for the third time in 2011 and for next year as well. The Government have ignored the wake-up calls. This Budget is a missed opportunity and I urge the Chancellor and his colleagues to think again about what is really needed to ensure that we emerge from this recession with a stronger, fairer economy for everyone in the country.