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Miliband: Living standards are down
2:48pm Wednesday 19th March 2014 in News
THE Chancellor spoke for almost an hour but failed to mention people's living standards have fallen under the Tories, Labour leader Ed Miliband claimed today.
Replying to the Budget, Mr Miliband was interrupted by Government MPs noisily shouting after just 18 seconds.
But he told the Commons: "The Chancellor spoke for nearly an hour but he did not mention one central fact: the working people of Britain are worse off under the Tories.
"Living standards down, month after month, year after year."
Labour MPs chanted "down" as their leader worked through statistics for the years of the coalition Government.
And Mr Miliband said: "Since the election working people's living standards - £1,600 a year down. You are worse off under the Tories.
"Their 2010 manifesto promised 'an economy where people's standard of living rises steadily and sustainably'.
"But they have delivered exactly the opposite. Standards of living not rising steadily and sustainably, but falling sharply and steeply.
"And today you simply reminded people of the gap between your rhetoric and the reality of people's lives.
"Living standards falling for 44 out of 45 months under this Prime Minister, unmatched since records began. No amount of smoke and mirrors can hide it.
"And we already know the answer to the question millions of people will be asking in 2015 - are they better off now than they were five years ago?
"The answer is no. Worse off, much worse off, worse off under the Tories."
Mr Miliband took aim at the "same old Tories" for giving City bankers who earn £5 million a year a £200,000 annual tax cut while freezing pay for thousands of nurses last week, denying them a £250 increase.
The Labour leader said: "If you're a City banker earning £5 million and you're feeling the squeeze, don't worry because the Government feel your pain.
"Because this year that City banker was given a tax cut, not just any tax cut - £664 a day, £20,000 a month, a tax cut worth more than £200,000 a year.
"So the Prime Minister chooses to afford a tax cut worth £200,000 a year for that banker but he can't afford a pay rise of £250 a year for a nurse.
"These are the people who have the nerve to tell us 'We're all in this together'.
"It's Tory values, it's Tory choices, it's same old Tories."
The Opposition leader said the country should not be "grateful" that Mr Osborne plans a surplus for 2018/19 because he promised the deficit would be clear by 2014/15.
Mr Miliband also took aim at a number of the Chancellor's promises in the earlier days of the coalition.
He said: "Back in 2010 you told us that at the end of 2014 the economy would have grown by nearly 12%.
"Today the figures say it's been barely half that, and you want the country to be grateful.
"Back in 2010 you said the Government would clear the deficit in this Parliament by 2014/15.
"Today you want the country to be grateful because you said you can do it by 2018/19.
"Three years ago the Chancellor told us in his 2011 Budget speech he would deliver an economy 'carried aloft by the march of the makers'.
"But what's actually happened since then to the rebalancing that you promised?
"Manufacturing output has fallen by 1.3%, construction output has fallen by 4.2%, infrastructure investment down by 11%, every time you come to this House and you promise a rebalancing and every time you fail."
Mr Miliband derided the increase in the tax-free personal income allowance as "a classic Tory con" because they are "giving with one hand and taking away with the other" with 24 tax rises since 2010.
He said: "It's the same old Tory trick. You didn't tell us the rest of the story. You didn't mention the 24 tax rises introduced since you became Chancellor.
"You forgot to mention you put up VAT, you taxed away child benefit, you raised insurance tax, and gave us the granny tax.
"It's a classic Tory con, give with one hand and take far more away with the other. Same old Tories."
Mr Miliband said the Government had overseen the "lowest housebuilding since the 1920s" while rents have risen twice as fast as wages.
He said: "At the heart of the argument we have over the next 14 months is this question: whose recovery is it under the Tories? Under them it's a recovery for the few, not the many.
"Bankers' pay in London is rising five times faster than the pay of the average worker.
"This recovery is not working for working people, whose living standards are falling.
"It's not working for millions of women who see the gap between men and women's pay rising.
"They don't want to talk about the low-paid workers promised a £7 minimum wage by the Chancellor and given just 19p an hour.
"Under this Government it's an economy of the privileged, by the privileged, for the privileged."
Mr Miliband claimed the Government wanted to tell people the opposite of what is happening in their lives.
He said this included informing the public that their wages are increasing when they are falling, adding: "Just like they tell people energy bills are falling when they are rising. And they tell people they are better off but everyone knows the truth.
"You can change the shape of the pound but it doesn't matter if the pound is square, round or oval - if you're £1,600 worse off, you're still £1,600 a year worse off. You're worse off under the Tories."
Mr Miliband insisted the Government believes Britain succeeds with "low wages, low skills , insecure work".
He added that today's Budget did not deliver the long-term changes required in banking, housing and energy.
Mr Miliband went on: "We know what their long-term plan is - more tax cuts for the richest while everyone else gets squeezed."
He turned to Mr Osborne's reported comments that people who pay 40p tax should be happy, adding: "So this is the new Osborne tax theory - if you're in the middle paying 40p, you should be pleased to pay more.
"But if you're at the top paying 50p, you should be helped to pay less. Same old Tories.
"It's no wonder even if their own side think they're totally out of touch and even now after all the embarrassment of the millionaires' tax cut, they won't rule out going further."
Mr Miliband called on Mr Osborne and Mr Cameron to nod their heads if they plan to rule out a further cut to the top rate of income tax from 45p to 40p.
The Labour leader said Prime Minister David Cameron was an "expert in re-branding", telling MPs: "Remember the huskies, the bike, the tree?
"That was before they said cut the green crap.
"What is the latest re-branding from the Bullingdon Club? It's beyond parody because what does this lot now call themselves? They call themselves the Workers' Party.
"And who is writing the manifesto for this Workers' Party. We have a helpful answer from one Conservative MP - there are six people writing the manifesto, five went to Eton.
"So by my count there are more Etonians writing the manifesto than there are women in the Cabinet. No girls allowed."
Mr Miliband said today's Budget was proof the country is "worse off" under the Tories.
In reference to Education Secretary Michael Gove's comments last week about the "ridiculous" number of Etonians in Mr Cameron's inner circle, he said: "You know you're in trouble when the Education Secretary calls you a bunch of 'out of touch' elitists."
Mr Miliband told the Commons: "We don't need a party for the privileged few, we need a party for the many.
"That is why Labour will freeze energy bills, guarantee jobs for young people, cut business rates, reform the banks, get 200,00 homes built a year and abolish the bedroom tax.
"This is the Budget that confirms that people are worse off under the Tories - a worse-off Budget from an out of touch Chancellor. Britain can do better than them. Britain needs a Labour government."
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