‘I AM pleased to report to the House on a UK economy that has grown in every year since 2010,’ Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond said to laughter and jeers in opening his Spring Statement on the state of the economy yesterday afternoon.
He claimed: ‘An economy which under Conservative leadership now has a manufacturing centre enjoying its longest unbroken run of growth for 15 years.’
He went on to claim: ‘An economy which has added three million jobs and seen every single region of the UK with higher employment, and lower unemployment than in 2010, seen the wages of the lowest paid up by almost 7% above inflation since April 2015 an income inequality lower than at any time under the last Labour government.’
Labour Shadow Secretary, John McDonnell responded: ‘I have to say to the Chancellor: his complacency today is astounding. We face, in every public service a crisis on a scale we have never seen before. Has he listened to the doctors, the nurses, the teachers, the police, carers and even his own councillors?
‘They’re telling him, they can’t wait until the next budget. They are telling him to act now. For eight years they have been ignored by this government and today they have been ignored again. The Chancellor has proclaimed today that there is light at the end of the tunnel. This just goes to show how cut off from the real world he is.
‘Last year, growth in our economy was one of the lowest in the G7, the slowest since 2012. The OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) just predicted that we will scrape along the bottom for future years. Wages are lower now in real terms than they were in 2010 and they are still falling.
‘According to the Resolution Foundation, changes to the benefits due to come in next month will mean eleven million families worse off. And as always the harshest cuts fall on disabled people.’
He added: ‘The reality is that the Chancellor and his predecessor have not tackled the deficit, what they have done is that have shifted it onto the public services, he has shifted it on to the Secretary of State for Health and on the shoulders on NHS managers and doctors and nurses throughout the country. . . . The conservatives chose to cut taxes for the super rich, the corporations and the bankers and it was paid for by the rest of us in society.’
When Tory MPs tried to shout him down, McDonnell said: ‘Mr Speaker they can shout all they want, they can make their snide remarks, the people out there know the crisis in our communities.’