We do not need to increase taxes in the way the Chancellor describes. He knows perfectly well, and I will come on to it shortly, that there is a way of managing the economy in a fiscally responsible way that allows an increase in spending while the debt and the deficit continue to fall. He may disagree with me—I respect that—but he had better respect that this is a genuine alternative vision to the cuts coming from his party.
The pain will be felt by the 145,000 households affected by changes to incapacity benefit, the 370,000 who have seen tax credits reduced, and the 620,000 families hit by child benefit freezes. It will be felt by the 120,000 people who have lost an average of £2,600 as disability living allowance was removed. I am glad the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is here to hear this. He can perhaps begin to understand that this is not a theoretical cut in a back office, but a real cut to real people’s living standards throughout the UK. It will be felt by the 835,000 households hit by the increase in the benefit cap. Why are these decisions wrong? There is now a substantial growing body of opinion, as Edward Miliband said, that we do not simply need a growing economy to fund our welfare provision; we need to squeeze inequality out of the system to provide a solid platform to grow the economy.