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Labour Challenges Osborne Claims

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Harriet Harman MP

Harriet Harman MP, Labour’s Acting Leader, said the economy needed to be strengthened “but not at the expense of people being made worse off”. She was responding to the Budget Statement in the House of Commons…reports Asian Lite News

Harriet Harman MP
Harriet Harman MP

The Labour leader said the budget is a rhetoric from its connection with reality. “A budget for working people?,” she asked. “How can he make that claim when he is making working people worse off and scrapping grants for the poorest students.Long term economic plan? What kind of long term economic plan when they are ducking it on Heathrow? Northern economic powerhouse? But he’s pulled the plug on rail investment?

She accused the government of playing politics with the budget.

“This Budget is less about economic strategy, more about political tactics designed by the Chancellor to help him move in next door,” she said.

“The most important thing for working people is sustainable jobs, in productive firms, in a competitive economy,” Harman added. “Productivity is key to the virtuous circle of increasing investment, higher skills, successful businesses and rising wages. That is the route not just to raising living standards, but the route to getting down the deficit. When it comes to productivity, this Chancellor’s record is poor.

“It’s not as if people aren’t working hard. But the things that turn their work into high productivity – skills, investment and infrastructure – are not there for them. That’s why we in the UK produce on average 30 per cent less per hour than workers in Germany, France and the US.

“Output per hour in this country is 17 per cent below the average for the G7 – the lowest we have been in the productivity league table since 1992. It’s not enough just to publish a productivity plan.  It’s about doing it.

“Businesses are absolutely clear that infrastructure is vital for raising their productivity – whether it’s roads, rail, airports, energy supplies, broadband or housing. A modern economy needs modern infrastructure. But the Chancellor has  pulled the plug on the electrification of the railways;  pulled the rug out from investment in renewable energy and flunked it on airports.”

 

Harman said many of the measures announced in the budget will make this country more divided. “The hopes of millions of working people are more important than his hopes of being a future Tory leader,” she said. “We know this Chancellor is personally ambitious. But when the economic recovery is still fragile, he should not just be ambitious for himself, but for the country.”