Rishi offers nothing to tackle inequality
Rishi offers nothing to tackle inequality

Watch my speech in Wednesday’s Budget debate

If only Rishi were as quick to protect the vulnerable, properly pay our key workers and support our businesses as he is to fund his own self-promotion.

There must be no return to Tory austerity as we come out of this crisis.  It didn’t work last time and it won’t again.  Instead we need to build a fairer society, with support for our most vulnerable and investment in retraining workers, rebuilding businesses, creating a zero-carbon future and tackling our housing shortage.  I used my speech to focus on two key areas – household debt and our transition to a green economy.  Here’s the text below:

“Before this Budget, the facts were there in black and white. Our economy was hit hardest because we had longer and stricter restrictions than other countries because the Government failed to get the coronavirus under control. In response, Members on both sides of the House were crying out for the Budget to put the economy on the road to recovery and right the wrongs of the insecurity of the past decade through bold investment in jobs. Instead, the Budget announcement—the 15th financial statement in just a year—just papers over the cracks of a failed economic approach.

There was no mention of schools or teachers, of cracking down on crime or of restoring our high streets. What we did have was the Chancellor freezing pay for key workers—our coronavirus heroes who have got us through this crisis. There was no mention of help for the care sector or for the carers who have given everything—100% of their work—to this crisis.

On household debt, the charity StepChange reported in September last year that 2.5 million people faced a financial crisis due to the impact of coronavirus. The Budget missed the opportunity to set that right and provide relief for those in our society who need it the most. Despite the clear dangers, the Chancellor’s pledge to freeze the personal allowance will further compound the household debt crisis.

The Budget showed that the Government want to go back to the same insecure economy and unequal country that has been so cruelly exposed by the virus. We need a commitment from the Chancellor and the Government to do things differently and to deliver on the needs of all our constituents, not more years of strained finances and mounting debt. There was no real ambition on the question of international tax evasion and avoidance, which could bring in funds to tackle some of the problems that desperately need tackling, and to address our mounting debt problem.

On the climate, despite some progress, the Budget failed to deliver the ambition that we all want to see. That is why Labour has called for investment spending to be brought forward, to kickstart the green economic recovery, as many other countries are doing, including through the large stimulus we have seen across the Atlantic. We desperately need measures to help key industries, including aerospace, car manufacturing, steelmaking, shipping and agriculture, reduce their emissions. Where are the plans for that? Where is the investment in those key sectors to bring down our carbon footprint? And of course we need the Government to reverse the cancellation of the green homes grant, which was myopic to say the least.

We need the Chancellor to grasp the urgency of this crisis and deliver the change that is needed. Labour has a plan and a commitment to deliver. We are delivering on the green economy here in London, with the leadership of Sadiq Khan. Give us another chance to get that right.”

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