The sad passing of Nelson Mandela has obviously overshadowed the Autumn Statement delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week. In his speech, George Osborne confirmed that, thanks to the Government’s long-term economic plan, the British economy is back on track and our burgeoning recovery underway, with growth set to more than double this year… This is the biggest upgrade for fourteen years!
For too long under Labour, the United Kingdom spent beyond its means and saw its finances spiral out of control. It has therefore fallen to the Conservatives – in coalition with the Liberal Democrats – to take the difficult decisions to return the public finances to an even keel. The British public have made sacrifices and, thanks to those sacrifices, the Coalition’s long-term economic plan is now bearing fruit. Indeed, the Chancellor even predicted there would be a small cash surplus by 2018. In only eleven of the sixty-five years since 1948 has Her Majesty’s Government recorded a surplus!
All of this, of course, has come about despite Labour’s consistent naysaying and talking down of the British economy. The churlish, red-faced, floundering response to the Autumn Statement from the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls – putting in what was, for my money, his most abysmal Commons performance to date – spoke volumes to the intellectual bankruptcy of this Labour Opposition. Of course, one would need to have a heart of stone not to feel some sympathy for Mr Balls’ utterly hopeless position. What on earth could he say in response to such positive economic growth forecasts? They were more than doubled by the independent Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) to 1.4% for this year and 2.4% in 2014.
The UK is expanding faster than any other advanced economy and, sadly, this is not exactly music to Mr Balls’ ears. He has been proved comprehensively wrong at every turn, having claimed there would be no return to growth unless the Government increased public spending. He predicted there would be a ‘double dip’, or even ‘triple dip’ recession… but there hasn’t. He said cuts would “choke the recovery”… but they haven’t – indeed, during the very quarter that he said this, the economy was growing by 0.7%. He said that a million jobs would disappear and that unemployment would go up. In fact, unemployment is to fall 7.6% this year to 7% in 2015 and 5.6% by 2018 and more than 1.1 million new jobs have been created since 2010. He confidently refuted the idea that cuts in public sector jobs would be offset by jobs in the private sector, yet that is precisely what has happened. Three jobs have been created in the private sector for every public sector job lost. He predicted that cuts would cause crime rates to soar. Have they? No, Ed was wrong again. Under this Government, crime has fallen by more than 10%.
Ed Balls is a walking, talking illustration of arrogant Labour complacency and the poster child for why Labour must NEVER again be allowed to get their hands on this nation’s finances. They cannot be trusted on the economy. Only the Conservative Party has the fiscal discipline required to keep the UK economy on a sound footing. Three-and-a-half years into a job, having inherited from the last Labour Government (in which Ed Miliband and Ed Balls were central to economic policy-making) the worst economic disaster in a generation, George Osborne has shown that the tough decisions Conservatives have taken in government, while often painful, are the right path for Britain. The Coalition are making positive inroads into the soaring deficits and rising debt bequeathed by the Blair-Brown Ministry but there remains a great deal to be done. We are tackling the cost of Labour’s out-of-control Welfare State – which they allowed to spiral to a staggering £220 billion – and tackling their oppressive budget deficit. Despite all this, the Chancellor has still been able to find £6 billion to help hardworking families (and without resorting to Labour’s old tactic of ‘stealth taxes’ – in fact, the National Insurance tax break announced by the Chancellor is a roll-back of one of Labour most underhand stealth taxes), making sure we fix the roof when the sun is shining by running a surplus and keeping public spending under control.
You can find out more about what the Autumn Statement means for you by clicking here.
Other key announcements included:
- Help for businesses, with employer’s National Insurance scrapped for workers under 21 (thus ending Labour’s pernicious jobs tax on young people) and business rates capped
- Reform of the Welfare State, with a permanent new welfare cap from 2015 and a requirement for jobless youngsters to undertake training or work experience, ending the pernicious cycle of young people leaving education for a life on benefits
- Help for motorists and commuters, with next year’s planned two-penny increase in fuel duty scrapped and rail fare prices capped at inflation
- Help for householders, with energy bills reduced by £50 as green levies are scaled back
- Help for school children, with free school meals for children in reception, year one and two
- Help for hardworking families, with a new £200 tax break for married couples, to be uprated in line with the personal tax allowance