Today, Dan Jarvis MP, has challenged George Osborne for failing to set out any vision for the families of Barnsley in his last four budgets.
During the course of his speech Dan stated “Barnsley is a town with a proud history and what should be a bright future. But each week, I see and hear what the chancellor failed to address yesterday; a lack of opportunity, a lack of growth in our economy, and a lack of vision from a government more interested in running the country than changing it”.
He went on to state, “What is holding Barnsley back is not the fundamentals – we have the location, the work force and the will to thrive – but what we need is action from the Chancellor. After almost three years in office, the Chancellor’s economic record is one of failure – by his own standards. The Budget has failed year after year to secure economic recovery and it is most certainly not fair”.
Speaking after the debate, Dan said, “It was important for me as the Member of Parliament for Barnsley Central to tell George Osborne about the very real effect of his failure to produce a budget which contains measures to help the people of Barnsley. Under his watch, unemployment in our town is rising, businesses are finding it difficult to start up and living costs are rising.
“We need a Chancellor, and a government, with a vision for Britain and for towns like Barnsley”.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this most important debate at this most important of times.
The Chancellor told us yesterday that his priority is to promote an ‘Aspiration Nation’
– a Budget for those who want to work hard and get on.
I hope he will understand if we are sceptical about his ability to deliver,
given that in each of his last three budgets he set out his key priority –
his test for the budget – and in each of these three budgets, he has failed to deliver.
In 2010, the Chancellor’s priority was tackling the deficit.
This was the budget which in his words, was “the budget to deal with our country’s debts”.
And what has happened to our’s country’s debts?
Today, national debt as a % of GDP is not forecast to start falling until 2017/18. Borrowing is now forecast to be £245 billion more than planned at the time of the spending review, to pay for the mounting costs of the government’s economic failure.
In 2011, the Chancellor’s priority was promoting growth.
This was the budget which the Chancellor named the “budget for growth”.
Mr Speaker, since 2010, the UK economy has grown by just 0.7% compared to the 5.3% forecast at the time.
Last year the UK endured a double-dip recession and the economy shrank by 0.3% in the final quarter. Only three other G20 countries have grown more slowly than the UK in that time.
And the OBR’s growth forecast has halved from 1.2% to 0.6% since the Autumn Statement.
In 2012, the Chancellor placed emphasis on rewarding those who work.
In this, Mr Speaker, I will concede to the Chancellor that this is a goal in which he has made some progress.
For the wealthiest in today’s society there is a huge reward for work – in fact a £100,000 reward.
Unfortunately, it is those who are struggling on low and middle incomes who are suffering.
Low wages combined with rising living costs in food, fuel and utility bills has meant that it is those people who are paying the price for the Chancellor’s failure - like the people in constituencies such as mine, in Barnsley.
It is a town with a proud history and what should be a bright future.
But each week, I see and hear what the chancellor failed to address yesterday; a lack of opportunity, a lack of growth in our economy,
and a lack of vision from a government more interested in running the country than changing it.
Jobs and Growth
According to the latest figures for my constituency, the number of people claiming Jobseekers allowance is at its highest since May 2010, at 7.8%.
Young people claiming JSA is at 13.7%.
Mr Speaker, these are people who want to work – who want to provide for their families, earn a living, get on the housing ladder, save for old age and contribute to our town.
But there simply aren’t the jobs available.
Yesterday we heard the Chancellor set out his latest scheme to provide growth –
a new infrastructure plan.
During the course of this Parliament, we have already heard of the government’s National Infrastructure Plan in 2010, 11 and 12.
Despite the promises, infrastructure spending in the public and private sector has been falling year on year according to the ONS.
Quite frankly, the latest announcement is a case of “we’ll believe it when we see it”.
A lack of growth has a multitude of effects, and this is being felt most acutely by our low and middle income families.
Utility bills are rising, the price of food is rising and fuel costs are rising –
all at the same time that wages are stagnating.
Research carried out by the Resolution Foundation has shown that living standards for low income families will continue to fall until 2020, as income inequality deepens.
A typical low income family – such as those which I meet every week in Barnsley – will see their net income fall by 15% by 2020, whilst the wealthiest households will see their living standards grow.
Mr Speaker, ‘Fairness’ has been the one consistent ‘priority’ for the Chancellor in every Budget since 2010. Yet, it is ‘fairness’ at which he is failing to deliver the most.
This Government’s favoured slogan ‘we’re all in this together’ does not ring true as inequality deepens and the Chancellor’s policies target those who have the least to give.
Yesterday’s Budget was another example of the Chancellor giving with one hand, and taking away with the other. While the Government are promising £750 million of childcare support, they will also be cutting 10 times as much for families in 2015. These cuts are coming at a time when families are already struggling to make ends meet.
The ‘bedroom tax’ will have an unfair impact on families in extremely difficult circumstances.
In Barnsley Central, the National Housing Federation estimates that 1,789 people will be affected, including families with disabled adults and children.
It cannot be right that millions of ordinary families are being forced to pay more for this government’s economic failure; through cuts to tax credits, child benefit, maternity pay and the bedroom tax – whilst at the same time, the most well off in society are set to receive an average of a £100,000 tax cut.
And what about our young people? What was in this budget for them?
The Government’s decision to abandon EMA, treble tuition fees and scrap the Barnsley-inspired Future Jobs Fund, delivers a triple whammy for young people hoping to get on the career ladder.
The abolition of EMA combined with spiralling transport costs are making it harder for young people to gain access to skills, training and employment.
Young people both in my constituency and across the country, are not getting the best start in life. This government should be doing more to support young people in these tough times.
What is holding Barnsley back is not the fundamentals – we have the location, the work force and the will to thrive – but what we need is action from the Chancellor.
After almost three years in office, the Chancellor’s economic record is one of failure – by his own standards.
The Budget has failed year after year to secure economic recovery and it is most certainly not fair.
Three budgets and three failures.
In the coming days we can expect to hear a lot of excuses; the eurozone crisis, that every country is in the same boat – never mind that only three countries in the whole G20 have grown less than Britain.
Perhaps the Chancellor will revert to his old favourite and blame the weather.
Mr Speaker, on every economic test he has set himself, he has fallen short.
On deficit reduction.
On rewarding those who work.
And on fairness he has failed those who need government the most.
Despite numerous opportunities and calls to change course from the Opposition and from members within his own party, and even members of the Cabinet –
this Government continues on a reckless course that is serving only to prolong the economic crisis.
Most worrying of all is the Chancellor’s inability to see his own record.
Three different priorities followed by three different failures. Now a fourth is likely to follow.
And it is people in my constituency of Barnsley Central who, sadly – will pay the price of this failure