THE BLOG

Ordinary British Families Are Paying the Price of Osborne's Failures

17/03/2016 07:29 GMT | Updated 17/03/2017 09:12 GMT

This Budget was a test for George Osborne, a test to see whether he can deliver a budget that is fair and one that helps us build for the future. It's a test he has failed.

Growth is down. Exports are down. Productivity is down. And wage growth and disposable income are down. The only things rising? Debt and the deficit. These are failures that don't deliver on fairness, and don't deliver for the future.

Osborne mentioned the 'Next Generation' almost 20 times in his speech, but he seems to have forgotten about today's young people. Homeownership has fallen by 201,000 since George Osborne became Chancellor, with house-building on his watch falling to its lowest rate for almost 100 years. Home ownership is out of reach for more and more of them and private rents are outstripping wages. Alan Milburn, the Government's Social Mobility Tsar, warns there is an 'existential crisis' for today's under 30s. This will only get worse with restrictions to housing benefit and the narrow application of his so-called 'National Living Wage'. No matter how much you talk about longer school days or more academies, it doesn't cover up the teacher shortage crisis or widening gap in attainment levels. His record on young people simply isn't fair.

The OBR's forecasts show Osborne will miss yet more targets he has set himself, failing on two out of three of his fiscal rules. And he might only pass the third thanks to number-fudging on corporation tax. Debt as a share of GDP will be 74.7% in 2020/21, up from previous forecast of 71.3%. And despite his best efforts he can't blame this on 'Global Headwinds'. UK growth revisions are significantly worse than the world economy as a whole, with the OBR putting this down to our ever faltering productivity - which is on average 20% lower than other G7 countries.

Business investment in the UK has been revised down as has consumer spending and household disposable income. And there's no mention of his export targets or measures to help British business reach new markets. His £1trillion target? Missed by 14 years according the British Chambers of Commerce and worsening. Osborne has failed to deliver for people and he's failed to deliver for the economy.

It was a Budget with unfairness throughout. Half a million people with disabilities will lose over £4billion in personal independence payments, at a time when the richest are benefiting from a Capital Gains cut. 30% of his net revenue in 2019/20 will come from less 1% of the most vulnerable in society. The Resolution Foundation have said that 80% of gains from income tax thresholds will go to households in the top half of the income distribution. The Fawcett Society point that Women in Britain are now facing the greatest threat to their financial security and livelihoods for a generation. Yet today there was no mention of how 81% of the negative effects of his tax and benefit changes falling on women. By failing to publish a proper distributional analysis, which the Tory Chair of the Treasury Select Committee has asked him to do, we know Osborne is trying to hide how regressive this Budget is.

Take the tampon tax, yesterday I called on Osborne to scrap this tax on women as the EU give freedoms to do so. But, importantly, to also commit to the £15million he announced in his autumn statement for rape and crisis centres. Today we hear that only 11.1%, just £1.6million, will go to these groups. That's a disgrace.

A matter of months after setting himself a debt target Osborne is going to miss it. With infrastructure investment falling as a share of GDP, the Chancellor is ignoring the chance for investment to boost growth - such as providing adequate investment in flood defences to prevent homes and businesses being put out of action like they were this winter. And this is despite the fact that he is making consumers pay the cost of his economic failure, via a rise in the Insurance Premium Tax, for instance.

Labour's fiscal credibility rule would allow us to grow the economy through strategic investment and deliver Britain the infrastructure it needs. A smarter, entrepreneurial state working in partnership with businesses would deliver the tax receipts and bring the debt down in a fairer way that's more focused on our future. Unlike Osborne Labour wouldn't play fast and loose with the figures, like he has done with corporation tax, to hit our fiscal credibility charter.

This is Osborne's eighth Budget - and his record of failure is there for all to see. The tragedy is that it is ordinary British families who are paying the price of that failure.

Seema Malhotra is the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Labour MP for Feltham and Heston