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Chancellor accused of pushing more people into poverty

John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, in Parliament Square, London (PA)
John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, in Parliament Square, London (PA)

The Chancellor has been accused of pushing more people into poverty or even onto the streets.

Lord Bird, founder of The Big Issue magazine, said austerity was too expensive for the country, warning that balancing the books in the short term means passing debts on to future generations.

He said: “The policies announced will only serve to push even more people into poverty and worse, onto the streets. We break the cycle of poverty and injustice now, not perpetuate it.

“The last austerity destroyed generational opportunity. This country needs to act now and invest in putting a safety net around people to stop them falling into poverty and homelessness.

“Nobody should be having to choose between feeding their children, keeping the house warm or paying the rent.

“We need better-paid, more sustainable jobs, affordable and decent housing, and better rights for renters. By committing to programmes and policies that genuinely work for everyone, we can finally cut the throat of poverty and usher in a new era of shared economic prosperity.”

Gary Smith, GMB general secretary, said: “The Tories have crashed the economy but it’s working people who are paying the bill.

“The Chancellor has decided to double down on the failed politics of austerity, adding to everyone’s cost-of-living misery by increasing taxes and cutting money from essential public services.

“NHS workers from nurses and porters to paramedics, who put their lives on the line during the pandemic, are being thanked with a big real terms pay cut.

“It’s clear the Government no longer believes in clapping key workers and prefers to stick two fingers up instead.

“This disgraceful Tory Government is out of ideas, out of time and should be out of office.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The Conservatives crashed the economy – now they are making working people take the hit.

“We are all paying the price for the last decade of Tory governments, which decimated growth and living standards. Today’s statement shows it will be two decades until real wages recover.

“The Chancellor talked about everyone making sacrifices, but the super-rich have once again been let off the hook – token tweaks to tax will do little to dent their bank balances.

“This is a Government more interested in rewarding wealth than work. This is a Government choosing to hold down the wages of nurses and teachers while it allows bankers unlimited bonuses.”

Federation of Small Businesses chairman Martin McTague, said: “Today’s Budget is high on stealth-creation and low on wealth-creation, piling more pressure on the UK’s 5.5 million small businesses, their employees and customers.

“While tackling inflation is essential, so are measures to create conditions for prosperity, growth and support enterprise. Today is a missed opportunity to avoid further economic slowdown.”

Neil Carberry, Recruitment and Employment Confederation chief executive said: “Today’s autumn statement was rooted in the reality of the country’s economic position – that alone is a step on from earlier in the autumn. The need for growth is obvious, and today’s statement showed the hard work that needs to be done.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our economy is broken. This autumn statement is not for working people. The Chancellor has taxed income over wealth, backed City bankers instead of nurses and chosen profiteers over public services. He has made political choices based on rules that he himself has the power to change.

“As for the Labour Party, they appear to have accepted the economic premise of the black hole rather than challenge it. That is a mistake.”

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist, said: “The Chancellor deserves credit for delivering stability, as well as protecting the most vulnerable, but businesses will think there’s more to be done on growth.

“Backing the CBI’s call for a freeze in business rates and smoothing the increase for those facing higher bills is very welcome.”

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK, said: “The Government is having to respond to a potent cocktail of factors, both domestic and global. Economic and political stability is the spine of our economy. The Chancellor has recognised this and taken action which is welcome.”