Wednesday 14 March 2018 Economy / John McDonnell / Stories

Austerity is a Conservative choice, not an economic necessity.

In yesterday’s Spring Statement, the Chancellor Philip Hammond had the opportunity to address the devastating impact eight years of austerity has had on our communities.

With economic recovery at its slowest since the 1920s, all the Tories’ astounding complacency has done is prove how truly out of touch they are. Philip Hammond’s statement was full of boasting, despite growth forecasts being well below those from a year ago.

Yet while he congratulated himself on marginally improved economic forecasts the Chancellor could not find a penny to begin to reverse the devastating impact that cuts to services like the NHS, the police and local government have had on the British public.

For eight years our doctors, nurses, police officers, carers, and local councillors have been ignored by Tory Governments and they were ignored again yesterday.

The Chancellor’s own Conservative council leader in Surrey said “we are facing the most difficult financial crisis in our history. The Government cannot stand idly by while Rome burns”.  But that’s exactly what they’re doing.

The Tories think of the allocation of funds to local governments as ‘reckless spending’ – but this funding could mean the difference between children’s centres, women’s refuges and libraries staying open, instead of closing.

The Tories have failed to take action and provide an adequate solution to the devastation faced by so many in our country. The Spring Statement could have been a genuine turning point but was – depressingly – another missed opportunity.

Instead, the Chancellor chose to press ahead with tax giveaways to the super-rich, corporations and bankers and left the rest of our society to pay for them.

Austerity is a Conservative choice, not an economic necessity. With the NHS at breaking point and local councils going bust, the neglect of our local communities and targeting of our most vulnerable citizens will be this government’s indefensible legacy.

The next Labour Government will end austerity and build a high wage, high skill economy that works for the many, not the few.