My hon. Friend is right. However, it is important to pin the blame where it is deserved, because perhaps the Chancellor gets too much of it. The blame actually lies in Downing Street with the Prime Minister. When she launched her bid for leadership of the Conservative party on
“If before 2020 there is a choice between further spending cuts, more borrowing and tax rises, the priority must be to avoid tax increases since they would disrupt consumption, employment and investment.”
Yet now we have a Budget that will raise the taxes of the self-employed and entrepreneurs—the people whose motivation is required for growth in the economy and an increase in productivity. It is the Prime Minister who has reneged on her leadership promise; the Chancellor is only doing her bidding.
This Budget claims to address the questions of education and productivity, but it is actually about selectivity and privilege for the narrow few. Let me tell the House what it has not done. For the first time in 100 years, the millennial generation is earning less than its parents. The Budget does not deal with that, because the Chancellor has sat on his war chest. Home ownership among middle earners is falling for the first time in 50 years. Mrs Thatcher would be turning in her grave if she heard that that was happening under a Conservative Government. By 2020-21—the end of the forecast period—average incomes will be a fifth less than they would have been if growth had continued at pre-crisis levels. There will be £5,000 less for every household.
The Conservative Government have not delivered a return to wealth for the ordinary person. The Chancellor’s freeze on universal credit and housing benefits means that one person in seven will have a lower real income in five years’ time. This is a Budget that does not address the real issues of inequality in this country. It is a Budget for inertia and complacency, and I will vote against it.