Nick Ferrari Presses Minister Over 'Unthinkable Decline' In Living Standards

"Why is it such a gloomy economic picture with the Tories?" The LBC presenter asked.
Nick Ferrari speaking to treasury minister Bim Alofami
Nick Ferrari speaking to treasury minister Bim Alofami

Minister Bim Afolami was in the hot seat over declining living standards on Monday, just days before the Budget will be announced.

The economic secretary to the Treasury was pressured over a new report published in The Guardian claiming there could be a second “lost decade” for working families in the UK.

Analysis from the poverty charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, found average post-tax earnings at the start of this year were £2,400 a year lower than the start of 2021.

It also predicted working families will be £1,900 a year worse off in 2029 than they were in 2021.

LBC’s Nick Ferrari pointed to the report’s findings, and asked Afolami: “Why is it such a gloomy economic picture with the Tories?”

“Well, I won’t repeat all the difficulties with Covid,” the economic secretary to the Treasury replied.

Ferrari hit back: “It all comes down to that? They had Covid in the US, Mr Afolami, and they had Covid in France and they had Covid everywhere else sadly.”

Afolami responded with a different set of statistics, saying: “If you look at the record since 2010 for people on lowest incomes, they are 30% better off, people on the minimum wage, if they’re working full time... are better off in real terms.”

“The picture is not uniformly bad,” he continued, “particularly for average people on average incomes, but of course we need to improve the picture.”

“So my listeners on average incomes are better off than they were 14 years ago?” Ferrari asked.

“What I’m saying is, in terms of real household incomes for people who are on average incomes is 12% up on what it was in 2010,“Alofami said.

“We’ve had the largest increase that we’ve seen in the minimum wage that we’ve seen in a generation.

“So we are trying to make sure that we put money in people’s pockets, but of course, that’s one of the reasons why the chancellor’s been very clear about the need to move to a lower tax economy.”

The Conservatives have been calling for chancellor Jeremy Hunt to introduce a range of pre-election tax cuts in his Budget – but others fears about the threat this could present to the country’s already struggling public services.

According to the poverty charity, the expected recovery from the shallow recession and falling inflation will probably not be enough to help the public get back on track.

The poverty charity’s chief economist Alfie Stirling also noted that this struggle comes after 14 years of stalled progress under the Tories to boost living standards – particularly when it comes to wages.

He said: “Unless policy makers intervene, the 2020s are set to see an unprecedented second lost decade of living standards in a row. As an economy, as a society and as a country, we simply can’t afford this to happen.

“With the Budget just days away, renewed political energy and policy bravery is needed urgently to avert a second period of unthinkable decline.”


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