THE BLOG

Invest in Our Future

08/07/2015 19:12 BST | Updated 08/07/2016 10:59 BST

Britain is booming. That was the message George Osborne gave in his Budget statement. But booming for who? The UK operates a failed economic model, and this Budget did nothing to change that.

Last year UK companies made record profits, yet over five million working people - one in six - earn less than the living wage. In-work poverty has never been higher. The number of working people claiming housing benefit to pay exorbitant rents has trebled.

I have consistently supported the calls from trade unions and anti-poverty campaigners for the living wage to become the minimum wage. That is not what George Osborne delivered today: the living wage is already £9.15 in London, in 2015 - and its calculation takes account of the tax credits that George Osborne slashed today.

Employment may be at record levels, but it's a recovery of quantity, not quality. Underemployment is 25% higher than in 2008. People in work need the lifeline of tax credits and housing benefit to make ends meet. Yet that lifeline is to be cut back for many.

Young people, our future, face the removal of student grants, no right to housing benefit, and with youth unemployment still high they will be hardest hit by the benefits freeze.

This government has no strategy to move beyond the low-pay, low-skill, low-productivity economy. It has been content to leave people's potential untapped, talents wasted. It is content with an economy that works for the few not the many.

To compensate for this strategic failure George Osborne offers corporation tax cuts. It is his only lever - but what use is it when the UK already has the lowest corporation tax rate in the G7? Our economy needs better infrastructure - for people and for businesses - and only a strategic state can deliver it. Tax cuts don't make businesses grow, nor do they help fund the modern infrastructure we need.

Large parts of our country have been neglected for more decades, with no real industrial strategy. Our national infrastructure - energy, housing, transport, digital - is outdated, leaving the UK lagging behind other developed economies. We won't meet our environmental targets without these investments.

There was nothing in the Budget about public investment, in fact the data published with the Budget shows it has been cut back even further. You cannot cut your way to prosperity. We need to invest in our future.

That's why I am calling for a people's quantitative easing - and asking my fellow candidates to join me in that call.

The Bank of England must be given a new mandate to upgrade our economy to invest in new large scale housing, energy, transport and digital projects.

This would give our economy a huge boost: upgrading our outdated infrastructure and creating over a million skilled jobs and genuine apprenticeships. Businesses large and small would benefit from the knock-on effects to the supply chain - and again from the advantages that the upgraded infrastructure would bring.

But none of this was in the Budget. The Conservatives have chosen to keep on the path of managed decline.

While other countries invest in magnetic levitation train networks, ours remain old and unreliable with expensive fares; while other countries plan for a green energy future, the UK remains the dirty old man of Europe; while five million people languish on housing waiting lists, we sell off our housing, and have no plan to tackle the lowest rate of homebuilding for generations; and we rank just 10th in Europe for superfast broadband coverage and only 34th globally for download speeds.

We need a strategic innovative state that will create the foundations for a strong economy. What we got in the Budget was a strategy for another crash: more house price inflation, more growth predicated on consumer debt, and no investment strategy to create a sustainable, higher paid and higher skilled economy.

If our country continues down this path of managed decline all of our futures suffer. People need Labour to set out a bold vision to win in 2020, and create a modern sustainable economy that works for all.