Living Standards

Part of Opposition Day — [Un-allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:49 pm on 30th November 2011.

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Photo of Robert Syms Robert Syms Chair, Regulatory Reform Committee, Chair, Regulatory Reform Committee 4:49 pm, 30th November 2011

Clearly, and another problem in the British economy is that there is a lot of private sector borrowing. We have a high level of indebtedness, both of government and of the private sector. In Italy, they save rather more than we do, and as a country we should try to encourage more of our citizens to save and not live on the never-never in the long term.

I support what the Chancellor did in the autumn statement. We are clearly in choppy weather, but that is no reason to change course. We cannot adjust the budget down or raise taxation painlessly. The living standards of most of the population will be squeezed. As the IFS and other organisations have said, living standards have fallen by about 7% over the past two to three years. The good news is that next year the projection is for things to be fairly flat, with some modest recovery after that. It may well be that when we get to 2015—the general election year—we have lower living standards than in 2010 as a consequence of the fact that we have inherited a major deficit, very difficult problems and a pretty rotten international environment. That is no reason for going off course, but it is a reason for sticking to a very sensible policy. Labour Members may think that we cannot do things without breaking eggs, but that is not so. We have to raise the tax burden and reduce spending, and I am afraid that that has consequences.