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‘The Government has failed’: Angry Manchester MPs condemn Chancellor George Osborne’s austerity budget

By Ed Owen & Mark Shales

Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget was heavily criticised today by Manchester MPs – most of whom are Labour.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s right-hand-man announced what he called ‘a Budget for our aspiration nation’, amid crises concerning the downgrading of Britain’s credit rating and rising unemployment.

However, Labour MPs were quick to criticise the Chancellor – who is overseeing one the longest economic downturns in history – for halving his own annual growth projection to 0.6 per cent.

Labour’s Lucy Powell MP – elected for Manchester Central last November – argued the government had let the country down.

“People in Manchester are paying the price of David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s failed economic policy,” she said.

“Our economy is flat-lining, prices are rising faster than wages, the deficit is going up and even our triple-A credit rating has been lost – on every economic test this Government set itself, it has failed.”

Senior Labour Party figures joined Ms Powell in criticising Mr Osborne, including Hazel Blears, MP for Salford and Eccles and former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Ms Blears expressed concern over the stagnant condition of the economy and felt most of the Chancellor’s promises failed to deal with immediate issues.

“Today’s Budget has shown our economy flat lining, with growth down and unemployment rising,” she said.

“Nearly 4,000 people across Salford and Eccles are now out of work, and a quarter of those are young people.

“The Chancellor’s announcements offer no help for those families now, with many of his initiatives not due to come into effect until 2015.

“We needed a Budget for growth and employment – instead we got a Budget based on jobs tomorrow not jobs today.”

Meanwhile Mr Osborne’s Budget was far better received on the side of the benches – Andrew Stunell, Liberal Democrat MP for Hazel Grove and former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, highlighting its successes.

“The fact our number one ask on our last manifesto has been delivered in this Budget with the ten thousand pound personal allowance from April of next year is very much the high spot,” he told MM.

“It emphasises our approach which is to build a stronger economy and get a fairer society so that ordinary people in Britain can get on in their lives.

“There can hardly be a better sign of that than taking 24 million people and giving them a £700 income tax cut.

“I guess we’re all disappointed that progress has been as slow as it has and this Budget is designed to help industry to get some investment in infrastructure and business support.“

Fellow Lib-Dem John Leech MP – representative for Manchester Withington – applauded the Chancellor’s move to create the Single Local Growth Fund.  

He welcomed the positive announcements for Manchester that even more power will be devolved to places like Manchester from central Government.

“Last year Sir Howard Bernstein called the Budget a ‘game-changer’ – now the Government are going further and implementing most of Lord Hessletine’s recommendations,” said the former Manchester Grammar School pupil.

“Devolving power down to local authorities is exactly what is needed in places like Manchester as local knowledge is the key to maximising growth and jobs.

“The Government are right to be devolving more powers to enable Councils and City Regions to make more of the decisions that will help create more jobs in Manchester.”

And amongst the ranks of the Chancellor’s own party his message of austerity and growth fell upon sympathetic ears.

Graham Brady, MP for Altrincham and Sale West and Chairman of the influential 1922 Committee felt that, given the circumstances, the current Budget should be considered a triumph.

“These are extraordinarily difficult times and the Chancellor had very little room for manoeuvre, but he produced a Budget that was clearly on the side of business, jobs and hard-pressed taxpayers,” said The Spectator’s Backbencher of the Year 2010.

“Corporation tax which was 28 per cent when the Government took office will be just 20 per cent at the end of the parliament – the lowest and most competitive in the western world.

“Also, bringing forward the increase in the personal allowance to £10,000 from next year means that more of the lowest paid will pay no income tax at all.”

Image courtesy of Labournorthwest, via YouTube, with thanks.

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