Sir Keir Starmer has hit back at Rishi Sunak’s Budget, accusing the chancellor of “papering over the cracks” in his spending plans.
The Labour leader said the chancellor was the person “actually making the decisions” in government, but said these decisions had “left us with the mess we find today”.
Starmer accused Sunak of delivering a Budget that “papered over the cracks rather than rebuilding the foundation”.
It also showed the government “doesn’t understand what went wrong in the last decade or what’s needed in the next”.
“I’m sure this Budget will look better on Instagram,” he quipped, in reference to a slick promotional video released by the Treasury earlier this week.
Starmer took aim at the government for failing to address issues such as pay for key workers and money for the NHS.
“After the decisions of the last year and the decade of neglect, we needed a Budget to fix our economy, to reward our key workers, to protect the NHS and to build a more secure and prosperous economy for the future,” he said.
“Instead, what we got was a Budget that papered over the cracks rather than rebuilding the foundation.”
“The chancellor may feel it is time for a victory lap, but I’m afraid this budget won’t look so good for the millions of key workers who are having their pay frozen, for the businesses swamped by debt and the families paying more in council tax and the millions who are out of work or worried about losing their job.”
Soros backs perpetual bonds
The Labour leader also used his response to Sunak’s Budget to reiterate calls for government-backed recovery bonds as a means of repairing the damage caused by the pandemic.
The British Recovery Bond scheme proposals would give millions of Brits the chance to invest in the UK’s recovery after Covid.
In a statement today billionaire investor George Soros said that while Starmer’s proposals were “novel”, the chancellor would be “better placed” to draw upon the idea of perpetual bonds.
Perpetual bonds, formerly known as War Bonds or Consols, were first issued in 1752 and later used to fund the Napoleonic and Crimean Wars and World War I.
Soros said the issuing of these bonds in the context of the pandemic looked “eminently reasonable by historical standards”.
The famous hedge fund tycoon, who also runs the charitable Open Society Foundations, dismissed concerns that Covid Consols relied on debt to fund government spending, pointing to record-low interest rates and similarities with the Bank of England’s existing bond-buying programme.
“Many countries – including the UK’s European neighbours, France, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark – could benefit from issuing consols, but neither the governments nor the public nor the markets are familiar with this instrument. Britain could show them the way,” he said.