In the shortest Spring Statement on record, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond explained that the Government forecast for borrowing is set to improve and the UK has eliminated the day-to-day deficit for borrowing.
Mr Hammond suggested, “the UK economy has grown every year since 2010 and there are higher employment figures in every region. Wages have seen a 7% increase above inflation since 2015.”
However, Shadow Treasury Minister Anneliese Dodds questioned current figures, stating, “there is a record number of children from working families in poverty. This is a very good reflection on the current employment market.”
With such figures underpinned by an increased chance of physical health problems and lower educational attainment, the opposition responded ferociously.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell explained, “last year, the UK had the lowest growth in the G7. Wages are now lower in real terms than they were in 2010.”
Yet Mr Hammond still claimed that the signs were positive for growth in the UK. He added, “inflation is currently at 3% but is set to drop back to 2%. This will allow a real wage increase in the first quarter of 2018-19.”
However, Mr Hammond suggested that such establishments will have to wait to receive any additional funding. He added, “we don’t agree with every penny being spent immediately but we will continue our support for public services as we deliver a balanced approach.”
Mr Hammond did commit £500 million for T-levels to support post-16 development, alongside funds for the likes of housing and small businesses engaging with apprentices.
He concluded, “an overall strategy for 2020 and beyond will be produced alongside a review in 2019. If improvements continue there will be more money to work with.”
However, the shadow chancellor continued his passionate response. He explained, “for eight years the public has been ignored and today they have been ignored again.”
With school dinners for one million children set to be voted on and the “highest number of children taken into care since the 1980s”, Mr McDonnell is not convinced the future of the country is going in the right direction.
The likes of the National Education Union had also previously called for funds to be designated to education during the Spring Statement. They asked for ‘school cuts to be reversed, new money from the Treasury, fair funding and a five-year plan to be introduced’ but no news was forthcoming from the chancellor.
Mr Hammond has left the door open for a possible change to school funding in the Autumn budget but as we all know that in politics actions speak louder than words.