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Last week, we had the Budget announcement and the eclipse. One plunged the nation into darkness and the other one was a rare and important astronomical event. [Interruption.] I got one laugh, thank you.
The Chancellor claimed that Britain was walking tall again, giving the impression that our economy was booming, that well-paid jobs were being created, and that voters were better off now than they were in 2010. But are voters really better off, because that is not what they are telling me in Heywood and Middleton?
Many of my constituents work in the public sector where they have seen their pay frozen since 2010 or have been subjected to below-inflation pay rises. Some NHS workers have seen their pay fall by as much as 30% through the withdrawal of recruitment and retention premiums and reductions in out-of-hours pay on top of flatlining basic wages, not to mention additional pension contributions.