Budget 2016 LIVE: Reaction to George Osborne's statement as Jeremy Corbyn slams 'unfairness'

George Osborne's Budget is the culmination of "six years of his failures" and has "unfairness at its very core", Jeremy Corbyn has said.

Wednesday, 16th March 2016, 2:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th March 2016, 2:06 pm
George Osborne in Downing Street this morning.

The Labour leader said the financial proposals fail on productivity, investment and in tackling inequality.

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Mr Corbyn added that the Chancellor is offering tax cuts to the very wealthy while disabled people lose more than £1 billion.

Replying to the Budget, Mr Corbyn told MPs: "The Budget the Chancellor has just delivered is actually the culmination of six years of his failures."

Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle had to intervene as Tory MPs heckled Mr Corbyn.

The Labour leader went on: "It's a recovery built on sand on a Budget of failure.

Budget 2016

"He's failed on the budget deficit, failed on debt, failed on investment, failed on productivity, failed on trade deficit, failed on the welfare cap, failed to tackle inequality in this country."

Mr Corbyn added: "Today he has announced growth is revised down last year, this year, every year forecast.

"Business investment revised down, Government investment revised down. It's a very good thing that the Chancellor is blaming the last government - he was the Chancellor in the last government.

"This Budget has unfairness at its very core, paid for by those who can least afford it.

Budget 2016

"He could not have made his priorities clearer - while half a million people with disabilities are losing over £1 billion in personal independence payments, corporation tax is being cut and billions being handed out in tax cuts to the very wealthy.

Mr Corbyn attacked Mr Osborne for failing to deliver a balanced budget.

"Six years ago you promised a balanced structural current budget by 2015," he said.

"It is now 2016. There is still no balanced budget."

He also took aim at the Chancellor over previous Government claims that "we are all in it together" and at the Prime Minister's claim that he is delivering a "strong economy and a sound plan".

Mr Corbyn said: "But strong for who? Strong to support who? Sound for who?

"When 80% of the public spending cuts have fallen on women in our society.

"This Budget could have been a chance to demonstrate a real commitment to fairness and equality.

"Yet again the Chancellor has failed."

Mr Corbyn said Mr Osborne's promised "march of the makers" had not materialised, with the manufacturing sector now smaller than eight years ago and the construction industry stagnating.

"This is the record of a Conservative Chancellor who has failed to balance the books, failed to balance out the pain, failed to rebalance our economy."

The Labour leader said the Tory Government would forever be remembered for its "mates rates" tax deals with big corporations like Google.

"The gulf between what the Conservative Government expects from the wealthiest and what it demands from ordinary British taxpayers could not be greater," he said.

"The mates rates deals for big corporations on tax deals is something they will be forever remembered for.

"This is a Chancellor who has produced a Budget for hedge fund managers more than for small businesses."

Mr Corbyn criticised the Government for "standing by as the steel industry bled", leaving communities "ruined and damaged" and thousands of jobs lost.

He said the Chancellor had set up the UK to miss its £1 trillion export target by "a lot more than a country mile".

Mr Corbyn said 97% of the senior staff of the Northern Powerhouse "have indeed been outsourced to London, to the South".

He said: "For all his talk of the Northern Powerhouse, the North East accounts for less than 1% of Government's infrastructure pipeline projects in construction. For all his rhetoric there's been systematic under investment in the North."

Across the country, Mr Corbyn said local authorities, councils, were facing massive problems, a 79% cut in their funding.

"Every library that's been closed, every elderly person left without proper care, every swimming pool with reduced opening hours or closed altogether is a direct result of Government under funding our local authorities and councils."

Far from presiding over good quality employment, he said, Mr Osborne was the Chancellor that had presided over under employment and insecurity.

"If you're one of those nearly million people on a zero hours contract, you don't know what your income is, you don't have that security," he said, adding: "We have the highest levels of in-work poverty on record."

While Mr Corbyn welcomed funding for homelessness, he blamed the Government for creating the crisis.

He said: "It is the product of under-investment, underfunding of local authorities, not building enough council housing, not regulating the private rented sector that has led to this crisis.

"We need to tackle the issues of homelessness by saying that everybody in our society deserves a safe roof over their head."

He said it was a "damning indictment" of the Conservatives that child poverty is forecast to rise every year in this Parliament, while it is women who are impacted by the majority of austerity cuts.

"It will require a Labour government to address this," he said.

Despite Mr Osborne repeatedly championing the "next generation" in his Budget, Mr Corbyn protested about the difficulties they face.

He said: "The Chancellor may have a said a great deal about young people.

"He failed to say anything about debt levels that so many former students have, the high rents that young people have to pay, the lower level of wages that young people get, the sense of injustice and insecurity that so many young people in this country face and feel every day.

"It will again require a Labour government to harness the enthusiasm and talent and energy of the young people of this country."

Mr Corbyn welcomed money for flood defences but urged Mr Osborne to reverse cuts to the fire service, the Environment Agency and local government to boost the response to flooding.

On education, he said: "There is not one shred of evidence to suggest turning schools into academies boosts performance.

"There's nothing in the Budget that deals with the real issue, which is teacher shortage, the school place crisis or ballooning class sizes."

Mr Corbyn also welcomed the proposed sugar tax, telling the Commons: "If we as a society cannot protect our children from high levels of sugar and all that goes with it with the later crisis of health, cancer and diabetes then as a House we have failed the nation."

Mr Corbyn then criticised Mr Osborne for not addressing in his Budget the financial difficulties facing the NHS.

"The deficit has widened to its highest level ever on record," he said.

"Waiting times are up, the NHS is in a critical condition.

"Hospital after hospital faces serious financial problems and is working out what to sell in order to balance its books.

"Our NHS should have the resources to concentrate on the health needs of the people, not having to get rid of resources in order to survive."

Mr Corbyn then said he "didn't detect much in this Budget that is going to do much to resolve that crisis".

The Labour leader also took the Chancellor to task over plans to cut personal independence payments.

He said: "I simply ask the Chancellor this: If you can finance the giveaways that you have put in your Budget to different sectors, why can't you fund the need for dignity for the disabled people of this country?"

Mr Corbyn also suggested the Government should be doing more to support the police.

"To cut down on dangerous crime against vulnerable individuals we need community policing and we need community police officers," he said.

"18,000 losing their jobs doesn't help.

"This is a Government with failure on the police, failure on the National Health Service, failure on social care, housing and education."

Mr Corbyn welcomed the Chancellor giving the green light to HS3 and Crossrail 2 rail projects but said they are "nowhere near" the scale of investment the country needs.

"People rightly fear that this is just another press release on the road to a non-delivery of crucial projects," he added.

The Labour leader said the productivity gap was widening due to "chronic underinvestment" by the Chancellor, insisting Labour backs a "strategic state" that understands businesses, public services, innovators and workers combine to create wealth.

Mr Corbyn claimed the most vulnerable were paying for Mr Osborne's failure as he slammed the "cruel and callous Government that sides with the wrong people".

"Over the past six years the Chancellor has set targets on deficit, on debt, on productivity, on manufacturing and construction, on exports," he said.

"He has failed in all of them and is failing this country.

"There are huge opportunities for this country to build on the talent and the efforts of everyone.

"But the Chancellor is more concerned about protecting vested interests.

"The price of failure is being borne by some of the most vulnerable within our society - the disabled being robbed of up to £150 a week, these aren't the actions of a responsible statesperson, they are the actions of a cruel and callous Government that sides with the wrong people and punishes the most vulnerable and poorest within our society."

Mr Corbyn added: "This party will not stand by while more poverty and inequality blights this country, we will oppose these damaging choices and make the case for an economy in which prosperity is shared by all.

"Let us harness the optimism, the enthusiasm, the hope, the energy of young people, not burden them with debts and unaffordable housing, low wage jobs and zero hours contracts, but instead act in an intergenerational way to give young people the opportunities and the chances they want to build a better, freer, more equal, more content Britain than this Chancellor of the Exchequer has proved he is utterly incapable of doing with his Budget today."