On the 23rd of November, 2016, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, delivered his first Autumn Statement. With Brexit on the horizon, some have called this Autumn Statement one of the most important economic statements in British history. Prime Minister Theresa May and the Chancellor have vowed to deliver an economy that benefits the working people of Britain. However, Hammond’s autumn statement proves that this promise is an empty one. Here are some of the key points of Hammond’s Autumn Statement…
The continuation of Austerity… But only for the workers.
If Theresa May and Philip Hammond were serious about delivering an economy in which the working people are benefited, the most obvious course of action would have been to scrap the brutal austerity measures, which were put in place under the previous Conservative leader and Prime Minister David Cameron. Austerity has put public services on their knees, especially the NHS. Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, quite rightfully pointed out that NHS spending per-head has declined for the first time since 1948 – the year the NHS was created!
Not only has this Conservative government announced further austerity plans, they have also continued with their belief that those at the top should be treated better than the hard-working individuals, who generate the wealth of these business owners. The Chancellor announced that the Conservatives will be lowering corporation tax again, this time from 20% to 17%. In other words, it is austerity for the workers, but champagne parties for the wealthy. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have vowed to bring an end to tax cuts for the rich, as Labour believes those with the broadest shoulders should carry a heavier load.
Austerity is also crippling our economy. The OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) have predicted that the debt will rise over the next year or so, meaning that austerity has failed to deliver the debt cuts the last Tory administration promised it would. Hammond also admitted defeat, saying he will not be seeking surplus in 2019/2020, pushing back boundaries set by his predecessor, George Osborne – more evidence that both the Conservatives and austerity are failing our economy and people. Our economic growth is also a lot slower than the OBR had forecasted, and slower than the Tories had hoped for. The estimated figure is a total growth in GDP of 1.4% for 2017. The OBR also predicts that the economic growth over the next five years will be 2.4% lower than originally forecast. It is believed that the drop is a result of the Brexit vote. However, Theresa May has given zero reassurance to the people and businesses of Britain, which could very well have added to the damage inflicted upon our economic growth – we simply don’t know what we are getting ourselves into!
A Tory lie: The Tories have been telling people that they are pumping an extra 10-billion pounds into the NHS. The Health Select Committee have said this of these figures: ‘[10-billion pounds is] misleading and incorrect, the real amount is less than half that claimed.’
Benefit cuts to the disabled
Hammond has said that he wishes to continue with the £30-a-week benefit cuts to disabled people. Under any circumstances these cuts are unnecessary and heartless, but when he has just announced a tax-cut to the very richest in our society, it makes these cuts sound brutal beyond description. Some of the most vulnerable people in our society are reliant upon this benefit, and £30-a-week less will be extremely damaging to the lives of these people. It should not be the disabled who have to suffer as a result of “securing fiscal balance”, that burden should fall upon the wealthiest in our society.
Tories fail with housing policy... AGAIN!
This Conservative government has consistently failed to address the ever-looming shadow of the housing crisis. Many areas of the UK, including our own county of Buckinghamshire, have a severe issue with housing; houses are simply too expensive, and there are far too few of them. In his autumn statement, Philip Hammond announced that his investments will allow 100,000 houses to be built, as well as an additional 40,000 “affordable” houses. Not only are these figures light-years away from the actual number of houses we need, Hammond also avoided describing what he would consider to be an affordable price for a house. To put these figures into comparison, Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to build a million new homes, if he becomes Prime Minister. Labour has a real solution for solving the housing crisis.
Ignorant Tory “Living Wage”
Hammond announced that the so called “living wage” will rise from £7.20 to £7.50 in April, 2017. As a young individual living in High Wycombe, I consider this to be an insult. It is ignorant to believe that people can afford to live off £7.50 an hour, especially with the prices of renting and buying accommodation so high in places like Buckinghamshire, as well as elsewhere. The £7.50 “living wage” is not a trophy for this Conservative government, it is instead a prime example of how out of touch this Conservative government is with working people. John McDonnell has promised a minimum wage of “over £10 an hour” if Labour are victorious at the next general election; this is a wage increase that would significantly benefit the low paid.
Labour’s John McDonnell said the Autumn Statement was evidence that “the long term economic plan has failed”, and that this has been “six years wasted” for the people of Britain. Here are some facts from John McDonnell’s Autumn Statement speech…
. There was nothing in today’s statement to overturn the damage already done by the Tories
. Self-employed people-on average- earn less than a generation ago
. The Tories say they are striving for “fair taxation”, yet they have slashed recourses at HMRC by 40%, overloading those who help collect tax, as well as other massively important duties
. Working families who have lost up to £2,500 a year under the Conservatives are only getting back as little as £150 a year after this Autumn Statement
. The dream of young people being able to own a home will remain a dream, as Tories fail us with their housing policy yet again
In conclusion, it is evident that this Conservative Party is still the “nasty party”, no matter what picture Theresa May tries to paint. The continuation of austerity will hit the public like a steam train, damaging our public services, such as Wycombe Hospital. They have delivered a “living wage” that is impossible to live off, whilst giving tax-cuts to the rich. The Labour Party is the only party that has the principles and strategy to deliver an economy that works for the majority of working people.
Trade Union Liaison and Affiliated Organisations Officer- Wycombe CLP