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Dodds urges Sunak to set out ‘responsible’ plan after Tory ‘mismanagement’

PIC: Victoria Jones / PA

The Shadow Chancellor and Oxford MP is demanding jobs and businesses are protected.

The shadow chancellor will today urge Rishi Sunak to set out a “responsible plan” that puts Britain on the path to a “better, more secure future”, condemning “twelve months of irresponsible decision-making” during the pandemic.

Anneliese Dodds - MP for Oxford East - will call on the Chancellor to “rebuild the foundations of our economy” in his Budget on Wednesday, framing it as a “test of character” for Mr Sunak after a decade of “Conservative mismanagement of the economy”.

In a speech to Bloomberg in London, Ms Dodds will describe the Covid crisis as a “wake-up call” after a year of “last-minute scrambles, of U-turns, waste and mismanagement”.

Ms Dodds will demand a plan to protect jobs and businesses, give families certainty and secure the recovery, not a “triple hammer blow of council tax rises, social security cuts and pay freezes”.

She will say: “The Chancellor’s message to our key workers – our teachers, our police officers, our armed forces personnel – at the end of one of the hardest years in living memory, is to say: you deserve a real-terms pay cut. That is spectacularly unjust. It’s also economically illiterate.

“From the IMF and the World Bank to the OECD, every major international economic organisation is in agreement: now is not the time for tax rises on struggling businesses or families.”

She will add: “Coronavirus may have closed large parts of our economy. But this Government crashed it.”

Ms Dodds will warn the Chancellor is making “exactly the same mistakes again” in allowing the clock to run down on his business support and wage schemes.

She will add: “In the run-up to the Chancellor’s summer statement, as the costs to business of the furlough scheme were about to ratchet up, planned redundancies doubled.

“In September, as he proposed the ill-fated Job Support Scheme, redundancies jumped again – by another 40%.

“In the three months from September to November, when the Chancellor was announcing a new version of his Winter Economic Plan every other week, before we finally got a screeching U-turn just hours before the furlough scheme was due to end, redundancies hit almost 40,000, an all-time record.

“Unemployment kept increasing in the UK, while in other countries it was finally stabilising.

“That is the Sunak effect. While he dithers and delays, people right across the country lose their jobs.”

Ms Dodds will call for a “smart extension” of the furlough scheme for as long as health restrictions are in place, alongside a training offer for furloughed staff; clarity on the future of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme with action to close the gaps; a minimum six-month extension of business rates relief, the reduced rate of VAT plus an extension of the £500 Test and Trace support payment to those without an occupational sick pay scheme.

Ms Dodds will take aim at a Government she claims has “wasted and mismanaged billions over the course of this last year”.

She will say: “£22 billion on a Test and Trace system that for months wasn’t delivering.

“£150 million on PPE that wasn’t safe and so couldn’t be used. Almost £2 billion in contracts to businesses with clear links to the Conservative party, with no tender at all.

“£7,000 a day to management consultants while families across the country wondered how they were going to make ends meet. We’ll take no lectures from this Government on how to manage public money.”

Ms Dodds will urge the Chancellor to bring forward £30 billion of planned investment to support the creation of up to 400,000 new green jobs, while altering the terms of the Government-backed Covid loans so small businesses only have to start paying them back when they are growing.

She will say: “The Chancellor’s plans this weekend will do little to help more than a tiny proportion of ‘Generation Rent’ and look set to raise house prices even further beyond the reach of the rest.”

Ms Dodds will speak of “investment working for every part of our country”.

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