Owen Smith MP, Labour’s Shadow Treasury Minister, said in response to figures showing retail sales fell by 0.4 per cent in November:
“These are disappointing figures in a week when we’ve learned we have the highest inflation in the EU and unemployment has soared to a 17 year high.
“The evidence is mounting week by week that raising taxes and cutting spending too far and too fast has backfired. Our economy has now flatlined for over a year, well before the recent eurozone crisis, and the price of this slow growth and rising unemployment is a staggering £158 billion more borrowing than planned. This is extra borrowing to pay the bill for economic failure and a growing dole queue, rather than to help create jobs and support the economy through difficult times.
“If we’re to get the deficit down we need tough decisions on tax and spending but it’s also vital that we get our economy moving and get Britain back to work. Labour’s five point plan for jobs, which includes a temporary VAT cut and tax breaks for small businesses taking on extra workers, would boost our struggling high streets and help to kick-start our flatlining economy.
“This out of touch Government needs to wake up to the jobs and growth crisis facing our country. David Cameron and George Osborne should listen to Labour and the IMF, change course and get a real plan for jobs and growth that will get the deficit down in a fairer, better way. With this Government’s economic policies clearly failing, Britain desperately needs a plan that works.”