Spring Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:17 pm on 13th March 2019.

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Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond The Chancellor of the Exchequer 1:17 pm, 13th March 2019

The hon. Lady talks about reductions in economic forecasts. It is actually one year—[Interruption.] I will answer the question in my own way, if Emma Hardy does not mind. It is only one year for which the OBR has downgraded the forecast. In two further years, it remains unchanged, and in the fourth year, it increases.

The hon. Lady asked about the benefit freeze. That has been one of the many difficult decisions we have had to take. Under the last Labour Government and Gordon Brown’s stewardship, the welfare budget increased by 65% in real terms, getting it completely out of kilter with wages and making it unsustainable. That, combined with the fiscal pressure we faced in 2010, made it inevitable that we had to take action, but we have made it clear that we have no intention of repeating the current freeze. When it is over, increases in benefits will resume in line with CPI in the normal way.