With the leave of the House, I shall speak instead of the shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, my hon. Friend Rebecca Long Bailey, who has been taken ill and is disappointed not to be here today. We wish her a speedy recovery.
Every Opposition Member is disappointed by the Chancellor’s Budget, which can best be described as a “broken promises” Budget, despite the spin that the Secretary of State has tried to place on it. The Prime Minister promised the end of austerity, but the Chancellor was already backtracking within the first few minutes of his speech, simply saying that austerity is “coming to an end” and even that turned out not to be true. Austerity is certainly not over.
The truth is that the small giveaways in this Budget do not begin to even touch the sides of the cuts made since the Government took office. The £1.7 billion promised to universal credit is less than a third of the £7 billion of social security cuts still to come. School funding has been cut by 8%, but there was nothing to fill the gap, and the Chancellor’s idea that schools should be grateful for a one-off payment of £400 million for “little extras” is insulting. Local councils still face a funding gap of £7.8 billion by 2025, and budgets will be cut by a further £1.3 billion next year. How is that the end of austerity? In fact, the Resolution Foundation has predicted that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will have suffered a real-terms per-capita cut of over 50% by 2024.