Angela Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said in response to today’s Government borrowing figures:
“While the Conservative-led Government’s deep cuts and tax rises have now kicked in, these disappointing figures show that Government borrowing was higher last month than a year ago. And with only a small fall in Government borrowing in the first three months of this year George Osborne’s target to get the deficit down this year is in danger of being off track.
“This is because tax rises and spending cuts which go too far and too fast risk a vicious circle. As we can now see, the slower growth and higher unemployment George Osborne’s policies have delivered are actually making it harder to get the deficit down.
“Even before these figures were released the Government was already set to borrow £46 billion more over the coming years than they were expecting last autumn. It now looks like even those higher borrowing targets could be at risk of being missed.”
On today’s retail sales figures, Angela Eagle added:
“These figures confirm the disappointing news from the High Street we have seen in recent months. As the ONS has said the underlying picture is flat with a very modest year on year increase of just 0.4 per cent.
“We need urgent action to boost jobs and consumer confidence and get our economy moving again. Temporarily reversing January’s mistaken VAT rise would ease the growing squeeze on families and pensioners, give this stalled economy the jump start it urgently needs and so help get the deficit down for the long term.
“And instead of giving the banks a tax cut this year, George Osborne should repeat the bank bonus tax to get young people back to work, build more affordable homes and support small businesses. We need a balanced plan to get the deficit down that puts jobs and growth first. Getting people off the dole and into work is, alongside tough decisions on spending and tax, the best way to get the deficit down in the long term.”