Autumn Statement

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 1:25 pm on 3rd December 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Edward Balls Edward Balls Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer 1:25 pm, 3rd December 2014

As I was saying, the House has not yet seen the detailed documents from the Treasury and the Office for Budget Responsibility tables—I am sure that they will arrive shortly—but I listened carefully to the Chancellor’s statement. To establish the facts, I want to start by asking him questions about issues that are vital to our country’s future: living standards and wages; tax receipts and borrowing; growth and immigration; taxation; and the national health service.

First, on living standards—[Interruption.] These questions about living standards, wages and tax receipts are important, so I advise Conservative Members to listen to them carefully, and then we will hear the answers.

Wages have not kept pace with prices for 52 of the past 53 months. Today’s OBR forecasts confirm that wage growth is once again weaker than expected. Working people are now £1,600 a year worse off than in 2010. Someone in full-time work is now £2,000 a year worse off. For working people, there is a cost of living crisis, and the squeeze on living standards not only is hitting family budgets, but has led to a shortfall in tax revenues. The OBR confirms that stagnant wages and low-paid employment have hit revenues, saying that

“weaker-than-expected wage growth so far in 2014-15” is

“depressing PAYE and NIC receipts.”

Does the Chancellor agree with the OBR’s analysis? Will he tell us how much tax revenue has been lost this year because of stagnating wages and forced part-time employment?

The result of that shortfall in tax revenues is that, once again, the Chancellor has had to revise up his forecasts for Government borrowing. He told the House today that the deficit for this fiscal year is now expected to be £91.3 billion—[Interruption.]