Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation — Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:18 pm on 25th March 2013.

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Photo of Anas Sarwar Anas Sarwar Labour, Glasgow Central 6:18 pm, 25th March 2013

I have given way twice already, but if I have any spare time at the end of my speech I might let the hon. Gentleman entertain the House.

The Chancellor claimed the Budget showed he was on the side of people who want to get on; instead it has shown just how out of touch this Government really are. The low-paid workers the Government say will pay less income tax will still be worse off at the end of the month, when that saving is clawed back many times over—clawed back through VAT, clawed back through cuts to tax credits and clawed back from thousands of my constituents through the scandalous bedroom tax.

Yes, the Liberal Democrats can celebrate lifting the threshold to £10,000, but household income for many families in that bracket will fall as a result of the Government’s measures. At the same time, the value of an average worker’s pay has fallen by more than £1,000 and persistently high inflation continues.

In these difficult economic times, the Chancellor should certainly accept our proposals for the funding for lending scheme to be enhanced to target small and medium-sized enterprises better by rewarding banks that expand SME lending regardless of their mortgage book. Now is the time when our banks should be supporting SMEs, not hitting them harder. Throughout my constituency, whether I am speaking to small or large businesses, they all make the same complaint: the banking sector is holding back investment in this country, not promoting it. If we can get our banks lending again and get people investing, we will get more people back to work and see growth and regeneration in some of the hardest-hit communities.

The Chancellor should seriously explore our proposals for new regional banks that are committed to their regions and in touch with local business, making it easier for firms to secure the capital investment they require to create the growth and jobs Britain needs. Sadly, my constituents continue to suffer, trapped between this coalition Government, who continue to look out for the wrong people, and a Holyrood Government, who are distracted by their referendum obsession and happy to double Tory cuts and pass them on to local government, washing their hands of all responsibility and removing £250 million from Glasgow’s economy. We heard earlier from one of the SNP Members that we should recognise that the fall in unemployment was thanks to action taken by the Scottish Government. It is amazing that when unemployment goes up, it is all Westminster’s fault but when it goes down it is all thanks to the Scottish Government. It cannot be both.

The reason why I and countless others in the House went into politics was to help build stronger communities, not to use the poorest and most vulnerable people as electoral or political dividing lines, writing off millions of people as a drain on the economy for electoral advantage. We want to help to create a sustainable economy to fund world-class public services, ensure that society’s resources are distributed equitably and protect the most vulnerable people in our communities.

Last Wednesday I sat and listened to the Chancellor lay out his vision for the coming years. It is a vision that I and, I am confident, the majority of people in Britain reject.