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Budget Resolutions - Income Tax (Charge)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:38 pm on 1st November 2018.

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Photo of Peter Dowd Peter Dowd Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 4:38 pm, 1st November 2018

No, I will not.

There is nothing in the Budget for teachers, police officers and local government workers. There is not a penny for most frontline services, while local council funding is being cut by £1.3 billion next year alone. The Government have broken all their economic targets. They keep setting their own work, but they are marked an F grade every single time. Economic growth has been sluggish and is set to stay below 1.6% for the next five years. Productivity remains 15% lower than in other developed economies and the Government are doing nothing about it. Regional economic disparity is vast. Public sector investment is more than £18 billion lower than in 2010—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Aldershot talked about Marxism and brutal regimes. This is a man who has been to Saudi Arabia many times. That is the sort of brutal regime that he should be worrying about. It is an absolute disgrace.

Public sector investment is more than £18 billion lower than it was in 2010. That is not talking down the economy; that is talking up the truth. If austerity is over, why then is the Chancellor pressing ahead with a further £7 billion of social security cuts? The Health Foundation says that the money for the NHS is not enough. There is, of course, no mention of the £12 billion of outstanding loans and deficits that the NHS has had to use to get by.

On social care, the £650 million announced is less than half what the King’s Fund estimates is needed. Our children’s services are in meltdown. The additional money announced for universal credit is only half what was cut in 2015, and the list goes on and on. There is, of course, no shortage of gimmicks in the Budget. The introduction of a digital services tax is, I am told, already sending the tech companies into a frenzy. My right hon. Friend Dame Margaret Hodge says that it is media management.

In the labour market, one in nine workers across the country is in insecure work. Many are relying on credit cards to survive. As my hon. Friend Judith Cummins reminded us earlier this week, since 2008 only one in 40 net jobs created has been full time. There was no mention of that particular fly in the ointment by the Chancellor. Eight years of austerity have ripped through our society and our communities, driving in-work poverty and inequality, and further entrenching the economic crisis caused by greed and avarice. Therefore, in that context, we will not stand in the way of more income for low and middle earners; they deserve some respite from the Government. That is unlike the Liberal Democrats, who evidently will be voting against their own flagship tax policy set out in their manifesto.

The Opposition’s amendment to resolution 1 sets out our progressive taxation policy, which we laid out in our manifesto in 2017, of increasing taxes for the top 5% to help pay for improvements in public services, which we all need and which many people across the country need. This amendment highlights our tax reforms, which would shift the emphasis on to the wealthy few, while guaranteeing no further increases of tax on anyone earning less than £80,000. Labour will challenge the Government every step of the way to introduce a more progressive taxation system despite their rigging of Parliament. This is yet another broken-promise Budget that does nothing to end the slowest recovery since the great depression.

Austerity has damaged our economy, weakened our recovery and divided our society. It has made poor people poorer, made them angry, made them fearful, and made them distrustful of the politicians on the Government Benches who they feel do not stand up for them against powerful lobbies. Austerity has made the richest richer; that cannot be right and that cannot be just. It is not in the national interest. Government Members have made a point of claiming that they are not ideological, that they are pragmatists. Let them prove their pragmatism and their open-mindedness. If they are so confident of their policies, so sure of their convictions, then quite simply let them support our amendment. What do they have to fear?