Rishi Sunak's choices will cause hardship for Yorkshire families - Rachel Reeves MP

As prices continue to soar, people across Yorkshire will wonder what Rishi Sunak’s big Spring Statement fanfare last week means for them.

Rishi Sunak. Picture: Getty.
Rishi Sunak. Picture: Getty.

With so many from Rotherham to Richmond, from Barnsley to Bridlington facing a cost of living crisis, the Chancellor could have properly scrapped his unfair National Insurance tax rise – especially as we’re the only country in the G7 raising taxes on working people while prices soar.

He could have finally brought forward a plan to support British business and create good jobs.

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He could have introduced a one-off windfall tax on oil and gas companies to cut household energy bills.

That’s what I as Labour Chancellor would have done last week.

That windfall tax would have allowed us to cut VAT on home energy bills, and take up to £600 off the bills of those struggling the most.

Across the whole of Yorkshire, households would get up to £600 off their bills with Labour’s plan.

Our plan would cut VAT off everyone’s home energy bills, and with our measure to increase and expand the Warm Homes Discount, we would also help over 800,000 homes struggling the most in Yorkshire.

That includes 17,516 homes in Dewsbury, and 15,713 homes in Scarborough and Whitby, for example.

But instead, working people in Yorkshire will still have the highest tax burden in 70 years.

And the Chancellor’s Spring Statement means that the average earner in Yorkshire will see their earnings fall by £1,170 in the next year alone, relative to inflation.

Not only that, April will now bring the biggest fall in family incomes in Yorkshire since records began.

What’s especially galling is the cynical nature of the Chancellor’s choices last week. While cheerfully hitting families with an enormous tax hike, his ploy to cut income tax by 1p in 2024 – timed with the next General Election – is a promise of jam tomorrow that offers little comfort to people facing the cost of living crisis today.

And even if he does make that cut, he’s only shaving £1 off every £6 he’s taxing people now. He’s giving with one hand, and then taking with two.

As I said in my response to his statement – he’s living in a wonderland, completely out of touch with the reality that so many people are facing.

Britain’s people need a government on their side.

Instead, we have one that wants to raise taxes and leave working people paying the price.

Come April, a landlord with a large number of properties or someone who makes huge sums from buying and selling stocks and shares won’t be paying any more in tax, but their tenants will.

Why does the Chancellor repeatedly feel the need to raise taxes on working people, when no other major economy is doing so?

Conservative governments’ failure to get our economy growing over the past 12 years means less revenue going into the Exchequer.

And in the past two years, they have wasted taxpayers’ money – throwing it around like confetti, handing out covid loans to fraudsters which will never be repaid and wasting billions on unusable PPE.

Labour will stop this kind of endemic waste. We will tax fairly, spend wisely, and get our economy firing on all cylinders. Growing our economy is crucial if we want to get out of this cycle of high taxes and low growth.

If you don’t grow the economy, then you won’t have the funds to be able to fix our public services after a decade of neglect – which is why the Conservatives are hiking taxes to make up for their own shortfall.

And they’re making that vicious cycle worse, with their political choice to always dive first into the pockets of working people and ordinary businesses – instead of making fairer tax choices like a one-off windfall tax on the booming profits of oil and gas producer profits to ease energy bills.

Labour will supercharge our growth by buying, making and selling more in Britain – helping British and local firms win more government contracts to boost businesses here and improve jobs for people across towns, cities and villages across the UK.

Our Labour West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin is already putting this into practice with the region’s first Fair Work Charter.

We’ll scrap business rates and replace them with a fairer system fit for the 21st Century. As a pro-worker, pro-business party, Labour would create a level playing field to help revive our high streets and boost our recovery, shifting the burden of tax away from them and onto the online giants who aren’t paying their fair share.

I want to see our high streets and communities thriving again, and for businesses starting out to feel like the opportunities are vast.

Our Climate Investment Pledge will help tackle climate change, create good jobs across our country, and strengthen energy security too.

It will allow us to insulate 19 million homes – not just cutting carbon emissions, and saving you £400 off your yearly energy bill – but creating new jobs for builders, plumbers and pipe fitters to help us get the job done.

This is the kind of determination and vision we need for our recovery and economic growth.

Instead, we have a Chancellor that won’t leave you better off – he’ll leave you worse off. The Conservatives are the party of high taxes, because they are the party of low growth and wasteful spending.

Working families and businesses are set to endure greater hardship because of the choices Rishi Sunak has made.

Rachel Reeves is the Shadow Chancellor and Labour MP for Leeds West.