A lost era for living standards

Chancellor Philip Hammond departs 11 Downing Street, London, as he heads to the Palace of Westminster. Photo by Lauren Hurley/PA Wire
Chancellor Philip Hammond departs 11 Downing Street, London, as he heads to the Palace of Westminster. Photo by Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

Who can trust the Tories after Philip Hammond’s dismal budget last week?

He broke a 2015 Tory manifesto commitment not to increase National Insurance contributions, in the process hitting low and middle earners with a £2bn tax bill.

But that was far from the only Tory broken promise. It’s simply the latest in a long line since the Tories entered government seven years ago.

And the impact has been felt hardest across the north east.

They promised to keep council taxes low, but have allowed a five per cent increase for the next two years.

They promised to eliminate child poverty, but abolished child poverty targets in the Welfare Reform and Work Act, while think tanks have forecast that nearly a million more children will be pushed into poverty because of government policies.

They promised to protect pensioner benefits, but they will fall in real terms next year.

They promised to halve the disability employment gap, but it has fallen by less than a tenth since 2015.

They promised to deliver Universal Credit, but that will not happen until 2021-22 at the earliest, while cuts in work allowances will mean some working families are worse off by around £2,600 a year.

They promised a cap on charges for residential social care from April 2016, but that has been delayed until 2020.

They promised increased spending on the NHS every year, but funding for NHS England per head will fall next year and be cut the year after.

The list goes on and on.

The number of people on zero-hours contracts in the UK has hit a record high of 910,000, and the Institute of Fiscal Studies forecasts that real wages will be no higher in 2022 than in 2007.

A lost era for living standards is a damning indictment of seven years of Tory economics.

So much for Theresa May’s promise as she entered No 10 to “make Britain work for everyone”.