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Chris Leslie MP, Labour’s Shadow Treasury Minister, responding to the consumer confidence index for March 2011 and today’s Bank of England figures on secured lending to households, said: 

“Today’s figures showing consumer confidence remains in the doldrums after the biggest fall in nearly 20 years, further poor sales figures from big retailers and a rise in home owners defaulting on their mortgages are a real cause for concern. 

“People are beginning to find it more difficult to get by, not least because of George Osborne’s decision to hike up VAT in January. The Tory-led government’s cuts to tax credits, childcare support and child benefit freeze next month threaten to make things worse not better. Homeowners also face the worrying prospect of a rise in mortgage rates to curb rising inflation which has been fuelled by the Tory VAT rise. 

“We have to get the deficit down, but by going too far and too fast George Osborne is hitting families hard and holding back an economy which should be growing strongly this year. That’s a vicious circle because higher unemployment and slower growth means the government is now set to borrow £46 billion more over the coming years.”

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