Lib Dems respond to the Spring Statement – Hammond ignores the Heffalump in the room

You know, I actually wrote Autumn Statement in the headline and had to change it. Old habits die hard. I’m so used to the Big Budget being in March and that ritual of having to go and fill up with petrol the night before in case the prices went up…

Anyway, here’s what Lib Dems have been saying about Philip Hammond’s statement, starting with Vince:

The Spring Statement was a non-event. The OECD gave us the clearer picture – that the economy is bumping along the bottom of the G20, well behind the likes of Australia, Canada and the Euro area.

The OBR’s fresh forecasts are still a long way behind the figures estimated in March 2016 before the EU referendum.

It is time the government was honest with the public: there will need to be tax increases to pay for the NHS and social care, police and schools.

This is why the Liberal Democrats have advocated a penny in the pound income tax increase for health and care and why we must scrap cuts in Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax introduced since 2015.

Christine Jardine got a bit carried away with Winnie the Pooh metaphors:

While Conservatives debate whether the Chancellor is Eeyore or Tigger, they are all ignoring the Heffalump in the room. The disastrous hard Brexit the Conservatives are dragging the country towards will make every region of the country poorer.

This will mean a shortage of cash to properly fund our NHS and social care services, and a lack of investment in crucial housing and infrastructure projects.

We need an honest approach to tax that recognises our public services cannot run for nothing, not tax cuts for the wealthiest.

Willie Rennie chided the Chancellor for complaining about the cost of Scotland’s minimum alcohol price, coming into force on 1 May:

Decades of low prices have taken their toll on Scotland. It is estimated that alcohol misuse costs £3.6 billion a year – £900 for every Scot. In that context, any impact on the Treasury’s revenues is marginal. It is a small price to pay to reduce the long term burden on our under pressure health and justice systems.

“Inflation eroded the value of the original minimum price during the years that this policy has been caught up in the courts. That is one of the reasons why Scottish Liberal Democrats have pressed the Scottish Government to introduce a higher rate.

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  • nigel hunter 13th Mar '18 - 10:11pm

    The Russian event, poisoning, money for ‘favours’ donated to the Tories true or not are leading the headlines. The Spring Statement also takes the heat off the Brexit fiasco.

  • Steve Trevethan 13th Mar '18 - 11:21pm

    Where is there evidence of a quality which would be accepted in a criminal court?
    Where is that fundamental foundation of justice which is that no person should be judged without a fair hearing in which each party is given the real opportunity to respond to the EVIDENCE?

  • Peter Martin 14th Mar '18 - 6:55am

    If I were ever on trial for a serious offence I’d hope the jury would at least start off the trial with an open mind. In other words I wouldn’t want “the voice” on it! The sentiment that ‘he’s in the dock so he must be guilty’ doesn’t make for good justice or good politics.

    The Iraq war was a consequence of jumping to conclusions. Let’s not repeat the same mistake.

  • The IFS echo Vince Cable’s comment “It is time the government was honest with the public: there will need to be tax increases to pay for the NHS and social care, police and schools.”

    “Annual tax rises of £40bn will be needed if the government wants to keep spending constant and balance its books by 2025” adding that dismal productivity, earnings and GDP growth had become the “new normal”.

    …the UK was still suffering the hangover of the 2008 financial crisis and its growth outlook was “the worst in the G20”.

    On the one hand, public services such as prisons and the NHS were struggling “in a way that they were not two or three years ago”, On the other, the government is struggling to collect as much tax as it used to, after taking large numbers of people out of paying income tax.
    “The chancellor has been unable to tackle the problems posed by the increasing numbers of self-employed and company owner managers, who pay less tax than similarly remunerated employees.”
    “If high-paid jobs – and EU citizens, who are well represented among high earners in the UK – relocate elsewhere, the consequences for the Exchequer will be severe.”
    Given the outlook, the IFS said tax rises of £30bn would be needed each year to retain public spending and balance the budget by the middle of the next decade – a Conservative Party pledge.
    An extra £11bn would be required to cover social care, health and pension costs for the ageing population.

    Growth is now forecast to be 1.5% in 2018. However, Mr Johnson said the good news on borrowing would “largely wash out” over the next few years, while the structural deficit in 2019-20 would be almost unchanged.
    He added that the UK economy was now 14% smaller than would have been expected, based on pre-crisis trends, while median earnings remained below their 2008 level.
    “The reality of the economic and fiscal challenges facing us ought to be at the very top of the news agenda,” Mr Johnson said.
    “And I mean the reality, not the spin and bluster of politicians on all sides pretending there are easy solutions.”

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