Lib Dems respond to the budget: We would kickstart the economy back to growth and exit from Brexit

So, we’ve seen the extent of Phil’s spreadsheet and it didn’t make pretty reading. An economy on the slide, a disastrous Brexit on the horizon, growth forecasts crumbling – and that’s before we even get to the awful bit. Hammond’s response to all of this seemed so, well, inadequate. It’s like your town is flooding before your eyes and someone goes to Boots and buys a bath sponge to mop up the damage.

If this country is going to survive the oncoming storm it needed massive investment – a social housebuilding programme to rival that in the post war years, investment in infrastructure, a boost to the NHS. What do we get instead? A bit of tinkering and a few little traps set for the SNP to try to bolster the Tories in Scotland.

Vince Cable told Adam Boulton that we’re in a mess, the slump in economic growth costs each of us £700 and that the Chancellor has put more money aside in the event of a horrendous brexit no deal crash than he has invested in the NHS. Watch him here.

In an email to party members tonight, he said:

Today’s Budget saw the UK slip from the top of the growth league to deep into the relegation zone. Each person in Britain is set to be £687 worse off per year compared to forecasts before the election.

And as living standards are squeezed, the Government is setting aside £3.7bn to cover the cost of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

The Chancellor found more money in the Budget to plan for Brexit than he did for our struggling NHS, schools and police.

And the Labour Party are little better and their support for Brexit makes their fantasy economics all the more unrealistic.

A Liberal Democrat budget would have looked very different today. Founded on a vision of a high-tech, high-skilled economy that is green, open and entrepreneurial.

We would invest £6bn per year in our NHS & Social Care system, paid for by a penny on income tax. And Lib Dems would kick-start the economy back to growth with productive investment of £100bn over ten years to build more homes and infrastructure for the next generation.

Today’s Budget reinforces our belief that Britain is better off in Europe. We are fighting to remain in the Single Market and the Customs Union, and to give the people a vote on the final Brexit deal.

As more facts emerge, the public must be given a chance to Exit from Brexit.

In the Commons, Jo Swinson found the Chancellor’s statement wanting:

There is a bleak economic outlook, low productivity, the threat of climate change, the pace of technological change and the impact of automation on work. Those challenges are enough to keep any Government awake at night. They need attention, innovation and new ideas. Instead, we have a Government obsessed and consumed by Brexit, and they are not even doing that competently. The economic picture outlined by the Chancellor today makes it clearer than ever that we need an exit from Brexit.

Willie Rennie talked about the Brexit “juggernaut” heading for us:

The economy will be £45 billion smaller in just for it years time and that is the optimistic projection. This is the cold reality of Brexit Britain. All the major economies in the western world are currently going through a period of persistent growth while the Britain has gone from top of the growth league to deep into the relegation zone.

This is self inflicted damage. It speaks volume when this government plans to spend more money on Brexit than the NHS. The Brexit juggernaut is careering towards us at great speed.

I hope nobody is under the illusion that Hammond has done anything too useful with Universal Credit. For a start, the changes to payments only starts in January so it’s going to be a pretty miserable Christmas for those who are being subjected to the roll-out too. The biggest problem with UC is not the egregious wait for payment, it’s the fact that so much money has been taken out of it. When someone started to work, the rate at which they lost benefit was initially quite gentle. Since 2015 when they got their majority, the Tories have made it much more of a cliff-edge. The poverty trap is alive and well in Tory Britain.

Work and Pensions spokesperson Stephen Lloyd said:

The government’s U-turns are welcome but beg the question: why have they taken this long?

The overall system is still not fit for purpose. It must be paused before even more of our most vulnerable citizens are made to suffer on the ideological anvil of this Conservative government.

Why is it that this government insists on rolling out Universal Credit, instead of just stopping and fixing it?

The Chancellor ignored the £3 billion cut that was taken out of UC by George Osborne in 2015, which effectively destroyed its aim of making work pay.

The self-employed and single parents are still being shockingly treated, and many people will still face the risk of eviction because of the government making it difficult for UC recipients having their rent paid direct to landlords.

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

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  • Richard Underhill 23rd Nov '17 - 3:31pm

    “The economy will be £45 billion smaller in just for it years time” Please proof-read.

  • Mike MacSween 29th Nov '17 - 2:38pm

    I completely agree with everything Caron says.

  • Katerina Porter 9th Dec '17 - 9:59pm

    Remarks from latest Private Eye re Budget: Cuts: “buried in small print”..Department for International Trade from 0.4bn to 0.3bn also in ’19/20, Foreign Office from 2bn to 1.2bn,
    and in ’19/20. HMRC 3.6bn to 3.4bn then 3.2bn. Environment, food and rural affairs loses
    0.1bn a year Transport a 0.3bn cut by’19/20. Over these two years Defence and International Development get extra 3.9bn.
    The Departments crucial to Brexit negotiation get cut, also the Foreign Office could be key
    for Defence not to be called on.

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