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I want to comment on two aspects of the Chancellor’s statement: first, on inflation and the cost of living that people in Wirral and elsewhere are facing; secondly, on young people and employment. On inflation and the cost of living, we all need to acknowledge the global pressures that are causing price increases in the shops. Those pressures, including what is happening in the middle east and the price of food and other basic materials, make it more important that we get our policy right domestically. We have recently seen CPI inflation rise to 4.4% and RPI inflation rise to 5.5% in the UK, yet inflation for the EU as a whole is 2.8%. This picture of increased prices must also be taken into consideration in the context of our constituents whose wages are being held down. People have not seen an increase in their pay packets, but they are seeing price increases in the shops.
What is causing this inflation? I am well aware of the structure for setting interest rates and controlling price increases, and I look to the Governor of the Bank of England for an explanation as to why inflation has moved away from the targets. He says that
“three factors can account for the current high level of inflation: the rise in VAT relative to a year ago, the continuing consequences of the fall in sterling in late 2007 and 2008, and recent increases in commodity prices”.
He cites the Tory tax hike as having played a part in building inflation. My worry is not just about inflation this year, however; it is about people’s expectations of building inflation and the permanent hit that they will have on families.