The country was crying out for a budget to put us on the road to recovery and right the wrongs of the last decade by rebuilding our economic foundations, but what we received on March 3rd just papers over the cracks. I’m sure it came as no surprise to any of you when the OBR confirmed that the Tory Government’s mismanagement has left Britain with the worst economic crisis of any major economy.
There was no plan for NHS recovery so we can get people the healthcare they badly need. Indeed, there was no mention of the NHS or social care at all, until a few days later when we heard that NHS workers would receive a paltry 1% pay rise. There was also no mention of schools or teachers, or restoring Britain’s high streets. Meanwhile the Chancellor is forcing through a council tax hike that will hit households across the country.
It was the same old Tories with the wrong priorities: stamp duty cuts for second home owners and a cut to the incomes of the lowest paid, just as unemployment kicks in. This budget showed that the Conservatives want to go back to the same insecure economy and unequal country that’s been so clearly exposed by the virus.
A Labour budget would have put the NHS and social care at the centre of a new settlement to build a country fit for everyone. It would have had a plan to rebuild the foundations of our economy for the long term, with a relentless focus on supporting new jobs across the entire UK, supporting our high streets to thrive, protecting family finances and backing our key workers. We need to learn the lessons of this pandemic, not go back to the insecurity of the past. It is clear that Rishi Sunak has the wrong priorities and is totally out of touch with what the country needs.