It is a poisonous betrayal of ordinary people who have already suffered so much in six wasted years of Tory-led economic policy. Average incomes are still not where they were before the Financial Crisis, and as many are better off, we know it is the low and no income earners who have paid the price. The ten year benefits freeze is an effective cut in the incomes of the poorest. Cutting the tax credits portion of universal credit hits those who are just a little better off. Underfunded public services sap the ability of so many to improve their incomes through better health, cheaper housing, improved skills or better childcare. Abandoning the ideology behind austerity but retaining the implementation of it will not deliver the active, entrepreneurial state which can work with the best of the private sector to drive innovation-led shared, sustainable growth. Mrs May’s big speech on industrial strategy was a damp squib but the poison in Mr Hammond’s Autumn Statement is the toxic combination of continual austerity with rising debt.
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