Pressure mounts on Labour to outline deficit plan

Chancellor George Osborne
Chancellor George Osborne
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THe chancellor has accused Labour of a “Basil Fawlty approach” to the economy involving “not to mention the deficit at all”.

George Osborne made the comments as the main parties agreed to a Charter of Budget Responsibility motion set to see billions of pounds wiped off government spending.

The Conservatives say they would balance the books with £13 billion of savings from Whitehall departments, £12 billion from welfare, £5 billion from tax avoidance.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls was told to explain how he can apparently sign up to a budget responsibility agreement but not outline what cuts Labour would make.

Mr Balls though accused Mr Osborne of failing to grasp how the economy works, but confirmed that Labour would support the charter because it was “fully consistent” with the party’s position.

Speaking in Parliament, he said: “You have never really gripped the economics of what happens in our economy. You understand slogans, but you don’t understand actually how the economy works.”

“We have got to find a way in which we can strengthen the underlying growth in the economy.

“We will cut the deficit every year. We will get the current budget into surplus, we will get the national debt falling as soon as possible into the next parliament fully consistent with this fiscal charter.

“How fast we can do so will depend on what happens to growth, to wages, the housing benefit bill and events around the world. But our approach will be different from the Conservatives.”

Mr Balls highlighted Labour pledges to cut winter fuel allowances to rich pensioners, capping child benefit at 1% for two years, and reversing the top rate tax cut.