On Monday 24th March Robin Walker MP spoke in his fifth budget debate to welcome the turnaround in the UK economy and Worcester’s spectacular revival of fortunes since 2010.

He contrasted Labour’s dismal record in Government with the strong recovery that has been delivered by the Coalition saying:

“After the previous Government left the biggest peacetime deficit in our nation’s long history, the deficit has been halved and we have started to pay down the debt as a percentage of GDP. We are achieving record employment against Labour’s legacy of mass unemployment, and growth against its record-breaking recession.”

“The number of apprenticeships has doubled, youth unemployment has been slashed, businesses are confident to invest and people are beginning to be confident to save once again.”

“Under the previous Government, many people were afraid to go to the bank in case they could not get their money out. We took over in a crisis situation and at the end of five years of difficult decisions we will leave the country emerging into the sun.”

“I remember, under the previous Government, walking down streets in Worcester where every third door displayed a repossession notice. Those streets now show none. I remember seeing unemployment in Worcester above the national average—well above 2,500 people. Now it is below a falling national average, more than halved since the general election, and long-term unemployment has fallen for each of the past 11 months in my constituency.”

He went on to talk about the cost of living and Labour’s frequent suggestion of a “cost of living crisis”, pointing out that inflation was lower under the Coalition and wages are rising. Today, on 24th March the official rate of inflation has fallen to zero in the UK for the first time in history, whilst at the budget the minimum wage was increased by over 3% and minimum wages for apprentices saw a 20% increase. Robin said

“Labour Members also talk about a cost of living crisis, and it is true that over a long period wages failed to keep pace with inflation. This was the consequence of our economy being £112 billion smaller on their watch, more people being in competition for fewer jobs as a result of the 2009 crash, and the inflation caused by higher energy costs.

“However, this Government have presided over falling inflation, which is now at its lowest level on record, more jobs and, in the current year, above-inflation increases not just in the minimum wage, but in average wages and take-home pay.”

“The crucial decision to cut income tax for the lowest paid contrasts starkly with Labour’s decisions while in power to scrap the 10p rate and to push up employers’ national insurance. Instead of driving up the cost of employment and taking more of people’s wages in tax, we have helped businesses to create more jobs and, crucially, let people in the lowest paid jobs—part-time workers and those on the minimum wage—keep more of what they earn.”

He then welcomed the budget’s support for skills and apprenticeships before going on to comment on its support for savers, saying:

“One of the best things about this Budget is its support for saving. As chairman of the all-party group on credit unions, I warmly welcome both the £1,000 tax-free allowance for savings and the administrative changes that will remove a burden from savings organisations, including credit unions. Last week I attended my local hospital to see the launch of a payroll saving scheme from the Castle and Crystal credit union, which expanded into Worcestershire at my invitation. Such schemes will benefit from the Chancellor’s efforts to make saving more attractive.”

“In an age where saving for the deposit on a first home has become ever more challenging, I particularly welcome the launch of the Help to Buy ISA. My late father pioneered the policy of right to buy which helped thousands of people to own their first home in the 1980s, and I am hopeful that Help to Buy, combined with this innovative savings scheme, can help thousands more to enjoy the security of owning their own home in the 21st century. Help to Buy has already helped 184 families in Worcester and more than 900 in Worcestershire to get on the housing ladder. With the Help to Buy ISA I hope we can make a difference for hundreds more.”

Finally he made the case for taking more pensioners out of tax saying:

“I welcome this Budget continuing the increase in the basic state pension. On the doorsteps of Worcester I often hear from pensioners who are very concerned about the fact that they may be paying income tax on a small pension inherited from a deceased partner. The move to increase the income tax threshold to £12,500 in the future will take thousands of those pensioners out of income tax altogether, which will be an extremely positive reform.”


Notes to editors:


For the whole of Robin’s speech see the full Hansard transcript on http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150323/debtext/150323-0003.htm#15032332000353

For Robin’s detailed commentary on the 2015 budget see: