I start by congratulating my new hon. Friend Gareth Snell. His speech was interesting and very hopeful, given the economic situation that the people of Stoke-on-Trent, like the rest of the country, are suffering from. I am sure their new Member will do his adopted city proud, as I try to do for Coventry.
Let us look at the Budget in the context of the austerity measures that the Government have pursued. They will have lasted far longer than the time from the start of the second world war to the end of rationing, and we wonder why people like Donald Trump get elected—it is because austerity has gone on far too long in America, like in this country and in Europe. I would have expected the Budget to have offered at least some sort of hope to the British people, but all we had was a further dose of austerity.
The Government told us that the deficit would be eliminated by the end of the last Parliament—another promise that they have broken. In fact, the Chancellor is now extending the deficit. Taxes are increasing while real wages are falling. The TUC’s analysis has found that the UK ranks 103rd out of 112 countries for pay growth. Some 6 million people earn less than the living wage and 4 million children are in poverty. The Government have not really addressed those issues.
When Labour left office, Britain retained its triple A rating, we had low interest rates to help poorer families, and 85,000 more nurses and 32,000 more doctors had been trained. The current Government, and the coalition before them, have been living off the benefits of that.
Another broken manifesto promise by the Government is on national insurance contributions. That was touched on earlier, so I will not elaborate too much on it, but it will affect self-employed people, particularly those in lower pay brackets such as taxi drivers and people working in pubs. The rich will not necessarily be better off as a result, but the change will hit hard-working people.
In the case of welfare, there has been no reversal of the personal independence payment cuts and the changes to employment and support allowance, which will hit disabled people hard. There have been demonstrations about that, and I am sure that my colleagues will have been lobbied about it at their surgeries. Yet the Government have started a process that will allow some people to pass on property free from inheritance tax.