[Un-allotted Half Day] — Future Government Spending

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 4:02 pm on 4th March 2015.

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Photo of Tom Greatrex Tom Greatrex Shadow Minister (Energy) 4:02 pm, 4th March 2015

No, I will not. I have already given way three times, and I am running out of time.

As a result of low and stagnant pay, tax receipts are more than £68 billion lower, and receipts from national insurance contributions are £27.3 billion lower, than they were expected to be five years ago. Chronic low pay only drives up the costs of welfare, and the welfare bill is £25 billion higher than it was planned to be in 2010. The problems have been exacerbated over the last five years, not solved, and that has skewed the economy towards the interests of the few rather than the many. We need a fundamental change of approach: we need an economy that is focused on ensuring that people can earn decent wages and survive. That would enable us to increase the tax take, and to reduce the benefits bill. The choice that we shall all have to make at the general election will be crucial to the future of many of our constituents.

My own constituency badly needs that change of approach. Youth unemployment is 5.7%, well above the United Kingdom average of 3.2%, and median wages last year were 10% lower than the United Kingdom average. Every week I hear from people who are concerned about the contracts under which they are employed and about their prospects, and who fear that their children will be unable to find work. To those people, the last five years have meant a Government who have failed them.

As I have said, there will be a choice to be made at the general election. The Government have demonstrated that their plan is failing. They boast of economic success, but they have created the early signs of a recovery that works only for a handful at the top. There is an alternative to a failing plan, and that is a much better plan. The economy must succeed for working families throughout Britain: it must succeed for everyone in the country. I think that, in 63 days’ time, the people of this country will succeed where the Prime Minister has failed, and will hold him to his pledge. He has failed on the economy, so they will kick him out, and it will be good riddance to a failed Government.