The hon. Gentleman will know that SME lending was hit from 2010 to 2011 because of Labour’s banking crisis. We had the deepest banking crisis and the largest bank bail-out the world has ever seen. What did he think the impact was going to be? He should welcome the Government’s action to help SME lending, including the funding for lending scheme, which has helped thousands of companies.
The Opposition claim that economic growth is not felt by people across the UK and that living standards are falling. The truth is that the previous Labour Government left the country a lot poorer and, as a result, many hard-working families are finding it difficult. Our plan for the economy, the plan that has put our country on a path to prosperity, will help those families. What better way to increase standards of living than by making sure that as many Britons as possible can take home a steady wage at the end of each month? With more than 1.4 million private sector jobs created in the past three years—more private sector jobs created in three years of this Government than in 13 years of the previous Labour Government—we now have more people employed than at any other time in our history.
We are also taking measures that help keep more cash in the pockets of hard-working people up and down the country, while economic confidence has helped to keep mortgage bills low. If mortgage rates rose by just 1%, the average mortgage bill would increase by about £1,000 a year. We are also letting people keep more of their hard-earned income. Our increases in the personal allowance are worth £700 each year to every average taxpayer—a tax cut for more than 25 million people—while 2.7 million people on low incomes have been taken out of income tax altogether.