Autumn Statement 2014: Working people are still being squeezed, says Ed Balls

Shadow chancellor says OBR figures show wage growth is weaker than expected

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The Independent Online

Working people are still facing a cost-of-living crisis despite the economic news and policies announced in Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement, Ed Balls has said.

The shadow chancellor said the Office for Budget Responsibility's (OBR) new figures announced today show again that wage growth is weaker than expected, which is in turn hitting tax revenues.

Mr Balls said wages have not kept up with prices in every month but one over the last four and a half years, leading to a squeeze on living standards.

In his response to the Chancellor's statement, the Labour frontbencher said: "On living standards, wages have not kept pace with prices for 52 of the last 53 months.

"Today's forecast from the OBR confirms that wage growth is once again weaker than expected.

"Working people are now £1,600 a year worse off than they were in 2010.

"Someone in full-time work is now £2,000 a year worse off.

"For working people there is a cost-of-living crisis and that squeeze on living standards is not only hitting family budgets - it has also led to a shortfall in tax revenues."

Mr Balls said the Chancellor has missed his targets on eradicating the deficit by 2015 and to bring the national debt down, but has not told MPs by how much.

The shadow chancellor also asked "how much worse" things had got for Government borrowing since March's Budget.

He said: "The result of that shortfall in tax revenues is that, once again, I believe the Chancellor has had to revise up his forecasts for Government borrowing.

"You have told the House today that the deficit for this fiscal year is now expected to be £91.3 billion.

"But you did not set out in detail how much worse things are since the Budget.

"So, in your answer can you tell the House how much has borrowing this year been revised up compared to your Budget forecast?

"Back in 2010 the Chancellor and the Prime Minister pledged to balance the budget by the end of this Parliament and see the national debt falling this year.

"The Prime Minister said in 2010 'in five years' time we will have balanced the books',

"Today the Chancellor has, I believe, announced the deficit next year is forecast to be £75.9 billion.

"Can you confirm that number and the fact that national debt next year is forecast not to fall but to rise?

"And let me ask you - because, while you have clearly missed your targets, you didn't give us the scale of how much you've missed them - How much more will you have borrowed in this Parliament than you planned back in 2010?"

PA

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