Ed Balls

“In last year’s Budget the chancellor promised to ‘put fuel into the tank of the British economy’. But since then our economy has stalled and unemployment soared. This Budget should have put jobs and growth first, but the Office for Budget Responsibility delivered this damning verdict: ‘We have made no other material adjustments to the economy forecast as a result of Budget 2012 policy announcements.’ And worryingly, the OBR revised down business investment by 6.9 percentage points this year and 2.5 percentage points next year. By choking off the recovery, hitting confidence and pushing up unemployment, the chancellor’s gamble of raising taxes and cutting spending too far and too fast has backfired. Slower growth and higher unemployment means an extra £150bn of borrowing to pay for this economic failure. What we needed was real help for families on middle and low incomes. Instead we got a tax cut for 300,000 people earning over £150,000, while millions of pensioners will see an effective tax rise next year. We needed a real plan for jobs, including bringing forward infrastructure investment, a temporary VAT cut and tax breaks for small firms taking on extra workers. Instead the chancellor stuck with policies that aren’t only unfair, but on jobs, growth and the deficit aren’t working.”