Ahead of the Chancellor’s statement on the Pre-Budget Report and Comprehensive Spending Review, Liberal Democrat Leader Ming Campbell called on Gordon Brown to take responsibility for the turmoil in the economy.
Ming accused Gordon Brown of going to ground while his Chancellor tries to steer his way through the stormy economic waters of the Prime Minister’s making.
“Gordon Brown must stand up and take responsibility for creating an economic outlook full of uncertainty and instability.
“As Chancellor, Gordon Brown happily lauded his own economic wizardry, but failed even to recognise the growing problems of personal debt. Personal debt now stands at £1.3 trillion and households now have to set aside about a fifth of their income to service existing debt, two fifths for first time buyers.
“Every day nearly 300 people face insolvency and 75 family homes are repossessed. All the indications are that the problems could get much worse. This is a problem of the Prime Minister’s making and he must take personal responsibility for it.”
Ming Campbell attacked the Prime Minister for creating a situation in which he offered tax breaks for the wealthy while increasing taxes for those on lower and middle incomes. He said:
“Since Labour came to power the gap between rich and poor has increased and social mobility has declined.
“We want to see a cut in national income tax by 4p funded by environmental taxes and taxes on the wealthy.
“Council tax in particular places an unfair burden on pensioners and the low paid, it is likely that by 2011 average council tax bills will have increased by 120% since Labour came to power. It is high time we moved to local taxation based on the ability to pay.
“The majority of people feel overtaxed, it is now time to cut taxation for low and middle income groups to make work pay and ensure that the super-rich pay their fair share.”
Concluding Ming said:
“The UK is now in a situation in which there is likely to be a painful economic slowdown and a housing market correction, given difficulty in servicing high levels of consumer debt, a lack of confidence in the banking system and unfairness in the tax system. Gordon Brown must take personal responsibility for this.”