Danny Alexander on Autumn Statement: Our stronger economy will help us deliver a fairer society

Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has emailed Liberal Democrat members to highlight what we have brought to the Autumn statement which, he says, is “packed full of Liberal Democrat ideas.” Here it is in full.

Our greatest achievement in Government has been bringing our economy back from the brink of Labour’s disaster.

On Wednesday, I set out how we are literally re-building the fabric and infrastructure of Britain.

Today, we have delivered an Autumn Statement that clearly shows we are making real progress in rebuilding our economy after the ‘car crash’ Labour years. Growth is improving. There are record levels of employment. Business confidence is returning. Even the most cynical commentators are accepting that the economy is turning the corner.

All of us, in every part of our Party should feel proud. This recovery would not have been possible without us, and neither would the vast majority of the positive measures in today’s Autumn Statement.

In fact, setting the Tory Marriage Tax break to one side, the Autumn Statement is packed full of Liberal Democrat ideas.

Nick Clegg was right to tell Parliament yesterday that the recovery would not be happening without the Liberal Democrats.

To deliver fairness, we need a stable and growing economy. Our economy grew by the highest amount of any G7 country in the period July to September. We’ve delivered the climate in which UK businesses have been able to create 1.4 Million jobs. All this, whilst keeping on track to halve the deficit by 2015.

And we’re not just investing in Britain’s infrastructure. We are making sure that we are building the economic foundations of our country by investing in our young people. We’ve helped our young people by investing £40 Million to boost the number of apprenticeships by 20,000. We’ve increased the number of people who can go to university. And we’ve boosted employment opportunities for young people by scrapping the National Insurance contributions that companies have to pay on employees under 21.

To find out how many young people will benefit in your area, click here.

We’ve recognised the importance of small and medium sized businesses too – the ‘engine room’ of our economy, by knocking £1,000 off the rates bill for small retail premises to help our High Streets. And we’ve extended schemes that mean 360,000 small businesses will pay no business rates at all.

Because we have a sound plan to tackle the economic aftermath of the Labour years, we’ve also been able to take decisive measures to help families through the tough times. We’ve frozen Fuel Duty. We are saving families £50 on their electricity/gas bills. We’ve extended free school meals to all 5 to 7 year olds and have further capped rail fares. And don’t forget that by April next year, the income tax cuts that we promised in our manifesto will make working people £700 a year better off.

There is still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done. But we are making real progress and I hope you’ll feel able to tell that story with pride.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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6 Comments

  • While I’m sure there’s much to celebrate, it’s very hard to feel good about this when we’re also making another billion in cuts (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-04/osborne-tells-cabinet-to-cut-budgets-by-1-billion-pounds.html) and the Red Cross is distributing food to the needy in the UK for the first time since WWII (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/exclusive-red-cross-launches-emergency-food-aid-plan-for-uks-hungry-8872496.html).

    We’re doing lots to help working famillies – but we seem to be abandoning the weakest and poorest.

  • “In fact, setting the Tory Marriage Tax break to one side, the Autumn Statement is packed full of Liberal Democrat ideas.”

    Is the cap on welfare part of those Liberal Democrat Idea’s?

    Pensions and JSA is excluded from this cap, so I guess then that it is the sick and disabled people are going to be targeted yet again by this Coalition Government.

    Since the weekly amount an individual receives in sickness benefits can not be “cut” if the Cap was reached.
    The only way that this policy can work is to deny even more sick and vulnerable people access to sickness benefits by wrongly assessing them for the WCA or DLA/PIP or when they come up for renewal.

    It’s shocking the lengths that this coalition government will go to in order to scapegoat the most vulnerable people in our society.
    “All in this together” well yes you are in bashing the sick and disabled.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 5th Dec '13 - 2:31pm

    Matt,

    Is your statement based on evidence or presumption? I merely ask because the disabled have come out rather better in terms of working tax and child credits (2.7% increase as opposed to 1% for other claimants).

    If employment continues to increase, and if the economy improves as forecast it should , there will be less claimants and thus little pressure on the cap.

    But the key decision is where the cap should be set. At £500 per week, or £350 for single person households, it affected 19,276 households at some point during the six months to September., nearly half of those being in the expensive London and South East regions.

    I’m not saying that you’re necessarily wrong, merely that you may not be right, or that the impact may not be as dramatic as you fear.

  • @Mark Valladares

    It is based on the announcement of the policy which was “Overall welfare spending is to be capped”

    Mr Osborne explained that http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25222680 ” benefits which fluctuate with the economy, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, would be excluded from the cap.So too will spending on the basic state pension.”

    Since pensions are protected and the rates will go up with CPI and JSA is protected from the overall cap because the numbers fluctuate with the economy. The only group left to be targeted by this Cap are the sick and disabled who claim ESA and PIP.
    It stands to reason that once the Cap is reached, the government can not say to all the people who are in receipt of one of these sickness benefits, we are going to have to cut your benefit by “x” amount a week, the only way to implement the policy is to refuse sickness related benefits to New claimants or those who are up for renewal, which means more unfair and wrongly assessed ATOS Assessments.

    Since Pensions and Pensioner related benefits make up over half of the entire welfare bill, it is extremely unfair to exclude them from this cap, especially since more and more people are reaching pensionable age and the pensions increase at the CPI rate.

  • The Cap announced was not on the amount that a single person or family can receive. The Welfare Cap was for a Cap on the entire “welfare budget” but excludes Pensions and JSA.

    This Government and its supporters like to draw attention to the total “Welfare Bill” that now exceeds £200 Billion, but what they do not like to do is too admit to the fact that “Pensions and Pensionable related benefits” are included in this figures.
    And since it is this part of the welfare budget that is contributing to pushing up the costs more than any other sector of welfare spending it is wrong to exclude them from the CAP.

    Personally I would like to see pensions given there very own department in whitehall so they can be excluded from the figures whenever we talk about the total costs of welfare.
    But I think we all know why the Government will never do that.

  • Helen Dudden 8th Dec '13 - 10:26am

    Well, we have Rickets and “food banks” the “bedroom tax” and cuts to those who chose to heat or eat.

    I think you should be proud, free school dinners to those who don’t need them, but older children are no not included.

    I dont like your principles, I still do not see how to make some hungry, can be a more to improve the economy, I don’t speak from politics, I speak from the corner, where I worry for the children who will go hungry this Christmas

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