George Osborne – 2006 Speech on Women at Work and Childcare

Below is the text of the speech made by George Osborne in London on 27 February 2006.

It is a great pleasure to be here today to talk about how we help families balance their lives at home and at work. It is particularly good to do so in the presence of so many members of the Women to Win campaign and representatives from so many childcare charities.

For too long there has been a false impression that women’s issues are somehow separate from mainstream politics and mainstream policies. But every part of politics, and every policy, is as much for women as it is for men. Indeed, mothers are often the member of the family who has by far the most direct contact with public services like schools, hospitals and public transport and may have a deeper insight into what needs to be done to improve and reform them.

So the different perspectives and emphasis that women have cannot be treated as an additional extra, to bolt on to existing policies, but instead must be an integral part of our political system.

And to do that, we Conservatives need to appeal more to women, and to be represented by more women – more women of the calibre and ability of Eleanor Laing and Maria Miller, who join me on the platform today.

The Conservative vote amongst women was eight points behind Labour at the last election. We were level amongst men. Among women aged 18-34 we came third. At the last election almost half of the candidates in our 50 least winnable seats were women, but in our 50 most winnable seats, just one in eight were.

The Conservatives need more women at all levels in the Party, not only so that we look more like modern Britain, but even more importantly, so that we think like modern Britain. Only with more women in key positions will we, or any other Party, properly represent the people we aspire to lead. That is why the far-reaching changes David Cameron is making to candidate selection, including the Priority List, are so important.

It is not about political correctness. It is about political effectiveness.

Of course most issues are important to both women and men. We all care about the level of crime, the state of the health service, and the affordability of housing. But by ensuring that both men and women play an integral part in our Party at every level, we can be even more effective on those issues that we know are especially important to women.

One of those issues is childcare. For too long it has been seen as peripheral to the mainstream political debate.

Not any longer. David Cameron and I are determined that support for families and their childcare needs will be at the heart of what we offer the country at the next election. And I am not just saying that because David’s just returning from paternity leave.

For Britain is changing.

Just fifteen years ago, 59 per cent of women of working age with dependent children were in paid employment. Today that has risen to 68 per cent. And the group of women that have entered the workplace most rapidly are mothers of children up to age four.

There are many complex reasons behind these changes. Social and demographic changes are a factor. And increasingly both parents need to work. As research showed just last week, there is a huge financial cost, estimated at over half a million pounds, to taking time out of work to stay at home and look after a family.

Let’s be honest. In the past the Conservatives have given the impression that young mothers should stay at home.

Today the Labour Party gives the impression that all young mothers should work.

Both are wrong. Both are trying to impose choices on mothers. We need a new approach for a new generation. Instead of imposing a choice on mothers, we should support the choices that mothers make for themselves.

Mothers who work should not be made to feel guilty. Nor should mothers who stay at home. Let us stop trying to tell families how to live their lives. Let us instead support the lives that families live.

Every parent feels the stresses and strains of balancing work and family life. We live in an age in which only 10 per cent of people work a nine to five, 40 hour week – in which many feel that they’re actually working 24/7, and have not so much a work/life balance as a work/life imbalance, especially when it comes to childcare.

We are constantly juggling the pressures of work and family; relying on relations, friends and neighbours as well as paid carers for childcare; struggling with costs, searching for information about childminders or breakfast clubs or playgroups; and negotiating their way through the complexity of tax credit system. These problems do not get easier as our children grow older – in fact the demands on the parent can grow.

Looking for childcare is breathtakingly complex, and especially formidable for lone parents or parents from disadvantaged groups, or for parents with disabled children.

And the issue of childcare is not just about quality of life for parents.

It’s about children – their health, their development, their happiness, their opportunities. In short, it’s about giving them the best start in life.

For all the evidence shows that the quality of childcare from a very young age affects life chances and educational outcomes.

A single telling fact should cause politicians of all parties to hang their heads in shame: it is harder now for a child born to a low income family to escape his or her beginnings and climb to the top of the employment tree than it has been for nearly two generations. Over the past thirty years, social mobility has fallen. And it continues to fall.

Some on the left use this fact as evidence that all young mothers should work and the government must provide all childcare.

As Gordon Brown put it in December, when it comes to balancing work and family life, only the state can guarantee fairness. His eyes lit up when he called the provision of childcare for children up to 48 months “a whole new frontier of the welfare state”. At its worst it is a vision of a Brave New World: rows of mothers at work and rows of tiny children in uniform state-run nurseries. A real nanny state.

Instead, I believe that every family wants something different from childcare. Each has different needs, different desires and different decisions to take. You cannot impose a one-size-fits-all model of childcare provision.

So what is our alternative vision?

We are three years from the next election and just twelve weeks into David Cameron’s leadership, so I am not about to announce detailed policies. We have an excellent shadow team in Paul Goodman, Tim Loughton, Trish Morris, Eleanor Laing and Maria Miller who are working together to develop those policies. They will be supported by our Policy Group on Social Justice which today I am asking to help us with the hard-headed research and innovative thinking that will underpin their work.

But I do want to spell out three clear principles that I believe should guide that thinking.

The first principle is that we should provide financial support for the childcare choices that families themselves make; not use financial support as a stick to force parents into a particular choice.

There are some on the right who say the state shouldn’t be providing any financial support at all. I do not agree. Society has an interest in helping women who work to also provide the best care for their children. We cannot encourage women to have good careers and be good mothers, and then leave them to fend for themselves.

So government has a key role in making good childcare affordable.

Sadly, our childcare costs are now among the highest in Europe. According to a recent Daycare Trust survey, the cost of a typical full-time nursery place in England has outstripped inflation by nearly 20 per cent during the past five years.

The childcare tax credit was supposed to help. But many parents complain that instead of relieving the burden, the sheer complexity of the tax credit system seems to add to the work/life imbalance that they feel.

Perhaps that is why less than a quarter of low income families claiming both the child tax credit and the working tax credit claim the childcare tax credit element too. Parents can’t use it, informal carers can’t access it, and its eligibility is restricted.

I want our policy group to look at ways of making the support provided by the childcare tax credit simpler and much more user-friendly so that parents can actually use it. I would welcome the advice of those charities and voluntary organisations, like the Citizens Advice Bureau, who are currently trying to help navigate mothers through the existing maze.

I also want to look at whether we can expand the range of childcare that is supported. At the last election Theresa May produced imaginative proposals to do just that and in particular to unlock the expertise of family relatives. We should look closely at those ideas as we move forward. For the Government’s own research shows that 74% of the total childcare chosen by parents is informal, yet the Government is doing little to support those choices.

Of course, I am not about to write our 2009 Budget. Decisions on the support we can provide for childcare must take place within the constraints of controlling public spending. What I am talking about today is the broad framework, and providing financial support to families for the childcare choices they make is the first principle of our new approach.

The second principle is that we should expand the range of childcare choices available.

The Government should not be seeking a monopoly in the provision of childcare or nursery places. Yet that is what Gordon Brown’s implies when he talks about expanding the frontiers of the welfare state.

That is not what parents want. They want to choose for themselves from an array of sources that suit their needs and the needs of their children: between one-to-one care to groups, between state and private nurseries, between informal and formal care, between the qualified child-minder or nursery assistant and their own family and friends.

Research shows that the best way to improve children’s life chances, and both their social and intellectual development, is to understand the careful balance between the individual care a child receives and the role more formal group care has to play. Research clearly shows that good quality formal childcare and pre-school stimulates children, often resulting in an earlier development of verbal and cognitive skills. And this has to be balanced with the need for emotional support in the early years which may be better delivered in a one to one situation. So we can see that there can never be just one solution to the care needs of a child and that is why flexibility in provision is vital.

We want to allow and encourage the private and voluntary sectors to play a larger role in raising the life chances of children and striking the right balance between play and learning in the nursery and classroom.

That means insisting that all providers, whether or not they’re part of SureStart, operate on a level playing field.

Let me be absolutely clear. We support SureStart. We are not planning to close it down. But we do have concerns about the way SureStart is developing – concerns that are shared by many on the left.

One of the most attractive feature of the SureStart scheme and the new children’s centres when they began was that both were embedded in the local community, run by those who had campaigned to bring the new project to their area. But as the initial SureStart scheme is being broadened out across the country, and new children’s centres are created, control is increasingly been handed over to local authority bureaucracies and real community involvement is diminishing.

Good local voluntary and private provision is being crowded out. For every two new childcare places provided in the last eight years, one existing place has been lost. Of even greater concern are the falling occupancy rates. Two years ago 85 per cent of available childcare places were taken up; latest figures put the number now at just 76 per cent. This threatens the survival of childcare providers.

When David Miliband argued last week that an ever-expanding state is not crowding out the voluntary sector, here is clear evidence that he is wrong.

So we support SureStart and children’s centres. But we want them to develop in the spirit in which they began by involving local families closely in the management and operation of their centres. And we do not want the Government rigging the childcare market against those private, voluntary and independent providers operating outside the SureStart umbrella.

Again, it is all about us supporting the choices that families make, not make those choices for them. That is why expanding the range of childcare choices is the second principle that guides our approach.

The final principle flows from our understanding that good, affordable and diverse childcare is only one part of what society can do to support the choices that mothers make about balancing their work and home lives.

Government also has a role in protecting the careers of women who want to take time off to look after their children, particularly when they are just born.

Many good employers offer generous maternity support. They understand the importance of a motivated, happy and loyal workforce.

But we do need to provide legal protection to those who are not fortunate enough to work for those businesses. That is why at the last election and today we support the extension of maternity leave and maternity pay, although we recognise the cost that that imposes, especially on smaller businesses, and so we will reduce the burden of regulation elsewhere.

And we applaud the protection provided by the Equal Pay Act. There have been Conservative Governments in office for over half of the thirty years the Act has operated and during that time the pay gap has itself halved.

But we cannot be satisfied with where we are. I agree with the Women and Work Commission when they say today that there is still much to do. A pay gap continues to exist – particularly for part time work. And part-time, flexible working is central to how many mothers try to balance their responsibilities. So the message from my party should be firm. Unequal pay based on sex discrimination is completely and totally unacceptable in this day and age. We will do what it takes to stamp it out.

Let me conclude.

Providing financial support for families who use childcare. Increasing the choice of childcare available to parents. Protecting women who want to be good mothers and have good careers. These are the principles that will guide our thinking in the months and years ahead.

We reject those who say that a women’s place is in the home. We reject those who say that all women should work. We will support choices women make about their lives, not impose choices on them.

That is modern compassionate Conservatism.

George Osborne – 2016 Speech in Chicago


Below is the text of the speech made by George Osborne, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, in Chicago on 23 September 2016.

Thank you for inviting me here to Chicago to speak to you this evening.

I accepted the invitation not just because this Council is renowned around the world for its contribution to the debate about how we manage global challenges; I accepted because this lecture is in honour of Louis Susman, a quite exceptional US Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

I worked closely with Lou as the new British Government, led by David Cameron, sought to find its feet in the world six years ago. The bond we formed with the then still relatively new Obama administration was a strong one. On the fallout from the financial crisis, on the challenge of the Arab Spring, on the promotion of free trade, we worked together as close partners and allies.

And with Lou and his wonderful wife Marjorie, the serious business of politics was always mixed with the smart diplomacy of good hospitality. I remember the spectacular dinner they invited me and my wife Frances to at Winfield House, the palatial ambassador’s residence in Regents Park.

President Obama was there in his tux. Her Majesty the Queen was wearing her diamonds. I walked into a room full of the A-list, from Tom Hanks to David Beckham. Frankly, I was a little over-awed. Then Lou came up to me and said: the Queen and the President are having Martinis, you want to join them? After that, the evening slipped by beautifully.

That glamorous night with the Susmans was one of the many high points of the six years that I spent as Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer. There’s little doubt what one of the low points was.

The evening of 23rd June this year. When David Cameron and I watched the television in the first floor study of 10 Downing Street, as the results came in from the European Referendum and it became clear that the British people had voted to leave the EU.

That result has sent shock waves around the world. People here in the United States have been asking me whether it means the retreat of Britain as an outward facing global power; they have questioned what it means for the integrity of the western alliance; they worry about the consequences for European stability; and they wonder whether the deeply felt economic insecurity and anger at the established political order so evident in that referendum vote will have echoes here in the United States this fall.

I don’t pretend to have definitive answers to those questions tonight; and I would be skeptical of anyone who claims they do. That history is not yet written. But I do intend to spend this time ahead of me, out of government office but still in the House of Commons, trying to understand better the powerful forces that are driving the disruption of our democratic politics and widespread feelings of insecurity.

And I want to help devise what the best response should be from those of us who believe that free trade, open societies and international co-operation are the best guarantors of prosperity and a stable world order.

For if we don’t provide answers, then others will – those who want to erect barriers and sow division and exploit new technology to echo-back to people their anger and insecurity.

Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum – and if the mainstream can’t find answers, then the extremes will. And their solutions will make the situation for those yearning for more economic security and control over their lives a whole lot worse.

Let me start by examining that European referendum result. You cannot say that the British public were not engaged in the choice they were being offered. More Britons went to the polls on 23rd June than in any general election in British history.

More voters voted to Remain in the European Union than have ever voted to elect a party of government; and of course, even more – 52% of the total – voted to Leave. Among that 52% were close to 3 million voters who had not voted in our general election a year ago.

In short, this was a huge exercise in direct democracy. And so, frankly, ignoring the result or thinking that we can simply have a re-run to get a different result is – I believe – fanciful. We can’t behave like the East German government who, when faced with an election result they didn’t like, said it was time to elect a new people.

Britain has taken a decision, and it’s difficult to imagine the circumstances in which that doesn’t lead to Britain leaving the European Union.

That, however, is just one decision – and it gives rise to many future decisions for which we don’t yet have answers.

Since July, work has been done to understand what people’s primary motivations were for voting to leave. Half of all Leave voters said the main reason was that they felt decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK. A third of Leave voters cited control over immigration. Just 6% of Leave voters – around one in twenty – said their main reason for voting was that ‘when it comes to trade and the economy, the UK would benefit more from being outside the EU’.

There are lessons to be learnt across the political spectrum. Those who, like me, frankly underestimated public concerns about sovereignty need to think hard about how we can give people a greater say about the decisions that affect them and their community.

My feeling is that the answers go deeper than simply repatriating decisions from Brussels to Westminster – that people sense there are forces beyond their control that are driving their lives, from remote government to technological change, and that makes them feel insecure.

Likewise, those who claim that voting to leave was a great rebellion against the economic status quo need to accept that precious few Leave voters thought the country would be more prosperous outside the EU.

This was not a popular mandate for less free trade or for a more closed economy.

We should bear that in mind as we approach the decisions that lie ahead.

We may be leaving the EU, but we are not clear about what we are joining. What is the new relationship we will have with our European allies? What will the trade arrangements look like? Not just for physical goods, but intangible services like financial services? What will our border controls with our neighbours be, including at our currently invisible land border with Ireland? What are the criminal justice, immigration and extradition agreements we will strike? There may be millions of continental Europeans living in Britain, but what about the millions of Britons living in continental Europe? How, if at all, will we participate in collective European policy towards the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe?

We don’t have answers to any of these questions – and nor should we rush to provide them. This is the most important set of decisions Britain has faced since the Second World War, and getting them right is more crucial than taking them early.

Get them wrong – consign Britain to a relationship with our neighbours that makes us permanently poorer and more insecure – and the people most likely to pay the price will be precisely those who already feel the most marginalised.

So David Cameron was correct, on the morning after the referendum result, not to trigger the exit procedures that Article 50 of the European Treaties provide.

I commend Theresa May for resisting the pressure, from some Brexiteers at home and from some European capitals abroad, to trigger Article 50 this autumn. She is right that we need time to decide what Britain’s approach to these negotiations will be before we enter into them.

In any case, it is highly unlikely that the rest of Europe will be in any position to conduct serious negotiations until the autumn of next year.

My experience of six years of European negotiations is that nothing serious happens until the French and, especially, the German governments take a view – and both countries will be preoccupied with their own domestic elections for much of next year.

That’s an opportunity for the British Government and the House of Commons to think hard about how we should approach the decisions we now face.

For me, the guiding principle should be this: we should aim for the closest possible economic and security relationship with our European partners while no longer being formal members of the EU.

That is most likely to deliver the prosperity and stability and control over events that people are clearly yearning for. For what are the alternatives?

I am all for strengthening Britain’s ties with the rest of the world.

Throughout my fifteen years in Parliament, I have championed the vital alliance we have with the United States – both when it was fashionable and when it has been unfashionable.

It is the cornerstone of western security and prosperity. But it is an alliance that all British Governments and US Administrations since the war believe is enhanced because of Britain’s engagement in Europe.

Likewise, in government, I did more than almost anyone to promote Britain’s ties with the fast growing emerging economies – risking controversy to form a new economic partnership with China and making more trips to India than any Chancellor before me.

But these are complements to our relationships with our European allies, not substitutes. Britain cannot choose the continent we exist in. We are – and have always been – a European power.

Our economy is completely intertwined with the European economy – and always has been. Close to half of all our exports go to our near neighbours, and no amount of extra trade with the likes of Australia or New Zealand – desirable as it is – can possibly replace those large, mature markets on our doorstep.

Our financial centre is a global one, but one of its huge strengths is that it services a continental economy. I made it a special mission of mine to make London a home to Indian masala bonds, Islamic finance and offshore renminbi trading – last year, more renminbi bonds were issued in London than the rest of the world outside of China put together.

But again, this is not a substitute for our role as Europe’s wholesale financial centre – it is a complement – and it is not just in our interests, but the interests of the whole of Europe that it remains so.

Indeed, it is in the whole of Europe’s interest that the voice of Britain as a force for economic reform, global competitiveness and free trade is not lost from the collective discussion about how we raise the productivity of the whole European economy – or else we will all be poorer for it.

And our security is also completely interdependent with the continent of Europe. Two thousand years of British history, from the Roman invasion to the Battle of Britain, have taught us that. Each and every time we have tried to disengage from Europe, and wipe our hands of its problems, it has been a disaster for Britain and a tragedy for our continent.

So, as I say, we should approach all the decisions we now face about trade, about finance, about security, looking to forge the closest possible relationship with the rest of Europe consistent with being outside the EU.

We shouldn’t assume that there is an off-the-shelf arrangement that works for the second largest economy in Europe – I can’t see us consenting to the current arrangements around free movement of people that clearly caused such concern in the referendum.

Equally, I find some of the take-or-leave it bravado we hear from those who assume Europe has no option but to give us everything we want more than a little naive.

We need to be realistic that this is a two-way relationship: that Britain cannot expect to maintain all the benefits that came from EU membership without incurring any of the costs or the obligations.

There will have to be compromise.

Above all, we need to resist the false logic that leads from exiting the EU to exiting all forms of European co-operation – and that values the dangerous purity of splendid isolation over the practical necessity of co-operation in the real world.

Brexit won a majority. Hard Brexit did not.

The mainstream majority in our country do not want to be governed from the extremes.

The same principles of co-operation and engagement that drives Britain’s relationship with Europe should guide our approach to the global challenges we all face.

We have to confront the false prophets who – as in previous generations – tell people that their concerns about security in the world can be addressed by retreating from it.

None of the huge issues confronting our generation – from terrorism to mass migration, from disease to climate change – can be tackled alone.

Indeed, if we fail to intervene and solve these problems together, then the insecurity people feel will only increase.

I was elected to the House of Commons in June 2001, a Conservative opposition MP in a Parliament where the Labour Party had just won re-election with a large majority.

As new MPs, we were told to expect a relentless focus on domestic priorities. Instead, those early years in Parliament were dominated by conflict abroad.

The savage attacks in New York and Washington on 9/11; the overthrow of the Taliban government in Afghanistan; the invasion of Iraq.

For my political generation, the high price of intervention became painfully clear.

The loss of life. The sacrifice of our armed forces. The budgetary cost.

The shock and awe of well-planned invasions giving way to the long, messy chaos of insurgencies.

And the deep divisions this brought to our society at home. The marches. The bitterness in our politics.

Long gone is the confidence that Tony Blair expressed here in Chicago as Prime Minister back in 1999, when he discarded the old Westphalian settlement of non-intervention – and confidently set out new principles that would govern the right of the international community to intervene in the affairs of a sovereign state.

In its place is a resignation that it is never worth getting involved – that the price of intervention is never worth paying.

That, sadly, is the conclusion our western democracies have come to after a decade or more of difficult, divisive, drawn-out conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq and more latterly, Libya.

Last week, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons censured David Cameron for Britain’s involvement in Libya.

They tell a simplistic story. A rushed intervention. A failure to understand the complexity of the country. The removal of the strong leader who held the country together – however brutally. The chaos that ensues. The armed militias. The terrorism. Five years on, we’re still trying to bring stability to Libya.

But we forget: Libya wasn’t stable five years ago – that’s why we intervened.

And ask yourself the question; what if we hadn’t intervened?

I sat on the British National Security Council that saw the satellite imagery of Colonel Gaddafi’s forces advancing up the coast road from Tripoli to Benghazi to crush the uprising there.

There was no doubt that if British, French and American forces did not intervene right away then a massacre would take place in the following days. Many, many thousands of people would have died.

Benghazi would have been added to the list, alongside Srebrenica and Rwanda, of places where the west had shamefully stood aside – and where our failure to intervene still haunts us today.

And what confidence do we have that Libya would not still have descended further into civil war and chaos? After all, we chose not to intervene in strength in Syria.

We made a conscious decision not to intervene in 2011, when Britain, America and our allies could have tried to alter the outcome of the emerging civil war there by forcefully backing the more moderate elements of the opposition.

There was a plan put forward to do that. But collectively the West chose not to take it up – and we settled on something much weaker.

And we chose not to intervene again in 2013, when Assad crossed the red line we had drawn and used chemical weapons. The vote of the House of Commons against military action was the single most depressing moment of my time to date in Parliament.

I don’t know whether these interventions in Syria would have worked. I am sure they would have been very messy and difficult. Clinical interventions and text book nation building exist only in newspaper columns.

But I do know what has happened in Syria while we chose not to intervene decisively. Hundreds of thousands killed. Millions displaced. Neighbouring countries destabilised. The taboo on the use of chemical weapons broken. The emergence of a terrorist state. Russia back as a major player in the Middle East. And a refugee crisis that has fuelled the rise of extremism across Europe.

Yes, my political generation knows the cost of intervention – but we are also beginning to understand the cost of not intervening. It doesn’t make our countries more secure.

It doesn’t help address the fears of those who feel we invite the problems of the world on our shoulders – it makes those problems worse.

Those of us who are internationalists – who believe that co-operation is better than isolation – need to rediscover our self-confidence and make our case.

What is at stake is the kind of nations we want to be. Let me speak about my own.

In the last few years, with David Cameron, we took some deliberate and expensive decisions that were controversial and which required constraints on spending elsewhere in the budget.

I announced that we will continue to spend two percent of our national income on defence – meeting alongside US and unlike almost everyone else, our NATO obligation to do so.

That rising defence budget is being spent on the latest generation of military equipment, from aircraft carriers to submarines to fast jets, that will enable Britain to be one of the few countries to be able to project hard power abroad.

We have also decided to be one of the very few countries in the world to meet our UN obligation to spend 0.7% of our national income on international development – and that rising aid budget has put Britain not just at the forefront of the fight to eliminate diseases like malaria, but also central to the efforts to bring stability and support to Syria’s neighbours.

Indeed, Britain is unique among the major western nations in meeting both the NATO commitment on defence and our UN commitment on aid. Why did the government I was part of choose to do that at a time when resources are scarce?

It is more than just an expression of what we want our country to be – and it is a practical solution to the disorder that we see in the world, and the insecurity and the anger that is breeding at home.

That aid budget is not just meeting a moral obligation to the world’s poorest. It is a tool in responding to the refugee crisis that is destabilising Europe.

That defence budget is not just about protecting Britain’s own shores. It enables our new Prime Minister to deploy additional forces this week into Somalia to tackle terrorism there before it visits us here.

Together aid and defence add to Britain’s influence and reach, alongside our diplomatic network, our intelligence agencies, our prominent role in international bodies, our language, our culture, our science and – after this Olympic summer – our sporting prowess.

Mind you, I see the Chicago Cubs are on roll.

The Economist Magazine has ranked Britain number one in the world for the impact of its soft power. Our hard power makes us the only ally that can fight alongside the US in strength.

Together that concentration of power makes our country safer and makes our world more secure than it would otherwise be.

For if we, Britain, are not a nation prepared to intervene to secure free trade and international order and the rule of law, why should we expect anyone else to be?

If we don’t make that argument to our population than we cannot expect others to.

And what applies to Britain, applies to our European allies and to the United States as well. We were present at the creation of the post-war order. We must take care not to allow its destruction.

If we leave a vacuum of leadership in the world, then others who do not share our values will fill it.

If we don’t make an effort to co-opt new rising powers like China to the world order we created, and make them feel part of it, then we face the prospect of disintegration and confrontation.

If we, the countries that have championed world trade rules and open markets, do not continue to advance the case for trade across the Pacific and Atlantic, then who will?

If we don’t have a plan for global order, then we will fall mercy to other people’s plans.

This is a deeply unsettling time in so many western democracies.

Barriers are being erected.

Free trade is in retreat.

A voice is being given to the extremes.

That is not, in the end, going to help people who feel insecure and feel like they are losing control – it will make that insecurity and powerlessness very much worse.

We shouldn’t be afraid to say so.

We should fight fiercely for our values – for the co-operation, free markets and international institutions that have sustained our peace and prosperity, and can continue to do so.

As they say here in Wrigley Field, it’s time to step up to the plate.

George Osborne – 2016 Statement on Maintaining Support for Businesses and Households


Below is the text of the statement made by George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and co-signed by leaders of numerous banks on 5 July 2016.

While we are realistic about the economic challenge facing the country after the referendum result; we are reassured that collectively we can rise to it.

The last time Britain faced an economic shock the banks were at the heart of the problem.

Thanks to the hard work of rebuilding the banks, making them stronger and safer, and the arrival of new challenger banks – banks and building societies are now part of the solution.

The government gave the Bank of England new counter-cyclical capital buffer powers to support lending in the financial system in the good times and bad.

The independent FPC of the Bank of England have today used those powers.

Now the UK’s main lenders, meeting with the Chancellor this morning, have agreed to make the extra capital available to support lending to UK businesses and households in this challenging time.

The Chancellor called for a joint national effort to meet the economic challenge. Today we see that effort take place.

Signatories and attendees

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne
Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Harriett Baldwin
Ms Jayne-Anne Gadhia (CEO, Virgin Money)
Baroness Vadera (Chairman, Santander UK)
Mr Douglas Flint (Chairman, HSBC)
Mr Craig Donaldson (CEO, Metro Bank)
Sir Howard Davies (Chairman, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group)
Mr David Roberts (Chairman, Nationwide Building Society)
Mr John McFarlane (Chairman, Barclays)
Mr Alan Dickinson (Non-Executive Director, Lloyds Banking Group)

George Osborne – 2016 Statement on the UK Economy


Below is the text of the speech made by George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on 27 June 2016.

Today I want to reassure the British people, and the global community, that Britain is ready to confront what the future holds for us from a position of strength.

That is because in the last six years the government and the British people have worked hard to rebuild the British economy.

We have worked systematically through a plan that today means Britain has the strongest major advanced economy in the world.

Growth has been robust.

The employment rate is at a record high.

The capital requirements for banks are ten times what they were.

And the budget deficit has been brought down from 11% of national income, and was forecast to be below 3% this year.

I said we had to fix the roof so that we were prepared for whatever the future held.

Thank goodness we did.

As a result, our economy is about as strong as it could be to confront the challenge our country now faces.

That challenge is clear.

On Thursday, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.

That is not the outcome that I wanted or that I threw everything into campaigning for.

But Parliament agreed that there are issues of such constitutional significance that they cannot solely be left to politicians, and must be determined by the people in a referendum.

Now the people have spoken and we, in this democracy, must all accept that result and deliver on their instructions.

I don’t resile from any of the concerns I expressed during the campaign, but I fully accept the result of the referendum and will do everything I can to make it work for Britain.

It is inevitable, after Thursday’s vote, that Britain’s economy is going to have to adjust to the new situation we find ourselves in.

In the analysis that the Treasury and other independent organisations produced, three particular challenges were identified – and I want to say how we meet all three.

First, there is the volatility we have seen and are likely to continue to see in financial markets.

Those markets may not have been expecting the referendum result – but the Treasury, the Bank of England, and the Financial Conduct Authority have spent the last few months putting in place robust contingency plans for the immediate financial aftermath in the event of this result.

We and the PRA have worked systematically with each major financial institution in recent weeks to make sure they were ready to deal with the consequences of a vote to leave.

Swap lines were arranged in advance so the Bank of England is now able to lend in foreign currency if needed. As part of those plans, the Bank and we agreed that there would be an immediate statement on Friday morning from the Governor, Mark Carney.

As Mark made clear, the Bank of England stands ready to provide £250 billion of funds, through its normal facilities, to continue to support banks and the smooth functioning of markets.

And we discussed our co-ordinated response with other major economies in calls on Friday with the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the G7.

The Governor and I have been in regular touch with each other over the weekend – and I can say this this morning: we have further well-thought-through contingency plans if they are needed.

In the last 72 hours I have been in contact with fellow European finance ministers, central bank governors, the managing director of the IMF, the US Treasury Secretary and the Speaker of Congress, and the CEOs of some of our major financial institutions so that collectively we keep a close eye on developments.

It will not be plain sailing in the days ahead.

But let me be clear. You should not underestimate our resolve.

We were prepared for the unexpected.

We are equipped for whatever happens.

And we are determined that unlike eight years ago, Britain’s financial system will help our country deal with any shocks and dampen them – not contribute to those shocks or make them worse.

The second challenge our analysis identified in advance was the uncertainty that a vote to leave would bring in the coming months and beyond as Britain worked with its European allies to create a new relationship.

The Prime Minister has given us time as a country to decide what that relationship should be by delaying the decision to trigger the Article 50 procedure until there is a new Prime Minister in place for the autumn.

Only the UK can trigger Article 50, and in my judgement we should only do that when there is a clear view about what new arrangement we are seeking with our European neighbours.

In the meantime, and during the negotiations that will follow, there will be no change to people’s rights to travel and work, and to the way our goods and services are traded, or to the way our economy and financial system is regulated.

However, it is already evident that as a result of Thursday’s decision, some firms are continuing to pause their decisions to invest, or to hire people.

As I said before the referendum, this will have an impact on the economy and the public finances – and there will need to be action to address that.

Given the delay in triggering Article 50 and the Prime Minister’s decision to hand over to a successor, it is sensible that decisions on what that action should consist of should wait for the OBR to assess the economy in the autumn, and for the new Prime Minister to be in place.

But no one should doubt our resolve to maintain the fiscal stability we have delivered for this country. To all companies large and small I would say this: the British economy is fundamentally strong, we are highly competitive and we are open for business.

The third and final challenge I spoke of was that of ensuring that Britain was able to agree a long-term economic relationship with the rest of Europe that provided for the best possible terms of trade in goods and services.

Together, my colleagues in the government, the Conservative Party and in Parliament will have to determine what those terms should be – and we’ll have to negotiate with our European friends to agree them.

I intend to play an active part in that debate – for I want this great trading nation of ours to put in place the strongest possible economic links with our European neighbours, with our close friends in North America and the Commonwealth, and our important partners like China and India.

I do not want Britain to turn its back on Europe or the rest of the world.

We must bring unity of spirit and purpose and condemn hatred and division wherever we see it.

Britain is an open and tolerant country and I will fight with everything I have to keep it so.

Today I am completely focussed on the task in hand as Chancellor of the Exchequer to bring stability and reassurance.

In conclusion, the British people have given us their instructions.

There is much to do to make it work.

We start from a position of hard-won strength.

And whatever the undoubted challenges, my colleagues and I are determined to do the best for Britain.

George Osborne – 2016 Speech on HM Treasury Analysis of Leaving the EU


Below is the text of the speech made by George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at B&Q in Southampton on 23 May 2016.

Prime Minister, thank you very much.

The Treasury has already published detailed analysis of what a vote to leave would do to Britain’s economy over the long term.

And the results showed that Britain would be permanently poorer to the tune of £4,300 per household – £4,300 each and every year.

That’s the long term bill for leaving the EU.

But what about the immediate impact on our economy? What will it mean next month, next year? And what will it mean for you?

Today the Treasury is publishing its detailed and rigorous analysis of the immediate impact of leaving the EU on growth, jobs, prices, wages, house prices and our nation’s finances.

And the conclusion is that all would be hit.

Why is that?

Well, first households and businesses will know that Britain is going to be poorer in the future, so they’ll start cutting back on spending now, and avoiding big investments.

And that has an effect on the economy now.

Second, leaving the EU creates a huge amount of uncertainty.

We’d have just two years to work out how to leave the EU; two years to find a new working relationship with our neighbours; two years to do trade deals with over 50 other non EU countries; two years to introduce a load of new regulations here at home.

In other words, two years at the very least of complete uncertainty – and probably more.

And what will British businesses be doing during those two years?

They will be watching and waiting nervously.

They will delay purchasing new machinery, put on hold making plans for new premises.

They won’t take new people on; some will let existing people go.

And what about families – how are they likely to respond?

Families will also be uncertain about what is coming next.

If you don’t know what’s going to happen to your job, your partner’s job, your pay or the fortunes of the firm you work for – it would make sense to delay spending on things.

People will put off trying to buy a home, or starting their own business.

Put together millions of individual decisions like that and there is real damage to the economy.

And then there’s the impact on financial markets – and we’ve all learnt to our cost during the financial crash how that can affect us all.

Markets would be volatile, banks would be more cautious, the value of things like shares would likely fall.

So stack all these things together…

the fact we’d be heading towards a poorer Britain,

the fact we’d be surrounded by uncertainty,

the fact the financial system would be volatile,

and it builds up to a profound economic shock if Britain leaves the EU.

The Treasury asked one of the country’s leading economists and a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, Professor Sir Charles Bean to review the work, and he concludes that it “provides reasonable estimates of the likely size of the short term impact of a vote to leave on the UK economy”.

So what are the numbers from the Treasury analysis?

Economists looked at two scenarios – one where Britain experiences a shock, the second where it’s a severe shock. Under both scenarios here are the results.

This is what happens if Britain leaves: the economy shrinks,

the value of the pound falls,

inflation rises,

unemployment rises,

real wages are hit,

so too are house prices,

and as a result – government borrowing goes up.

The central conclusions of today’s Treasury analysis are clear – a vote to leave will push our economy into a recession.

Within two years the size of our economy – our GDP – would be at least 3% smaller as a result of leaving the EU – and it could be as much as 6% smaller.

We’d have a year of negative growth – that’s a recession.

The pound would fall in value – by between 12% and 15%.

That doesn’t just mean it’s more expensive when you have a holiday abroad.

It means everything we import becomes more expensive, which increases inflation and hits family budgets.

Within a year of the Referendum, inflation would be over 2% higher.

And let’s be clear who that would hit the most: the lower income families who spend the largest proportion of their income on things like food and energy bills.

In the financial markets, tougher conditions would lead to higher mortgage costs for families.

By 2018 house prices would be hit by at least 10% and as much as 18%.

So that’s what it means to vote to leave the EU.

Incomes fall.

Mortgage rates go up.

And the value of the family home falls too.

Behind all this – what people can afford to buy, where they can afford to live – are people’s jobs.

And so I want to talk to you about the impact on jobs too.

The Treasury’s analysis published today finds that a direct consequence of a vote to leave the EU would be significant job losses across the UK.

Within two years, at least half a million jobs would be lost.

That’s 80,000 jobs in the Midlands.

Over 100,000 jobs across the North.

Over 40,000 in Scotland; over 20,000 in Wales; almost 15,000 in Northern Ireland.

In London over 70,000 jobs would be lost.

Here across the South, almost 120,000 jobs would go.

And that’s the lower end of the estimates – across Britain as many as 820,000 jobs could be lost.

As always, it would be young people leaving school and college, and those already in insecure work who would be hit hardest.

Youth unemployment would rise by over 10%.

And for those that stay in work, wages will be hit too as firms see their profits fall.

The Treasury’s analysis finds that real wages will fall by almost 3% in the first two years compared to where they’d be if we remain in the EU.

To put it in perspective – that’s a pay cut worth almost £800 a year to someone working full time on the average wage.

The analysis today is clear: the uncertainty that would be caused by a vote to leave would put the brakes on investment, would cost over half a million people in our country jobs, and would cut people’s wages too.

And of course, all of this would have a big impact on the nation’s finances and how much we have to spend on things we value like our NHS and schools.

If we vote to leave, evidence shows that the deficit would be higher than it would be if we remain.

The borrowing bill for leaving the EU would be between £24 billion to £39 billion a year.

Let me end by saying this: it’s only been 8 years since Britain entered the deepest recession our country has seen since the Second World War.

Every part of our country suffered.

The British people have worked so hard to get our country back on track.

Do we want to throw it all away?

With exactly one month to go to the referendum, the British people must ask themselves this question: can we knowingly vote for a recession?

Does Britain really want this DIY recession?

Because that’s what the evidence shows we’ll get if we vote to leave the EU.

And to those who say we should vote to leave I’d say this: you might think the economic shock is a price worth paying.

But it’s not your wages that will be hit, it’s not your livelihoods that will go, it’s not you who’ll struggle to pay the bills.

It’s the working people of Britain who will pay the price if we leave the EU.

None of this needs to happen if we vote to remain.

Yes, we’ve got improvements to make to the EU – but we know what they are and we’re clear about what the future holds.

If we remain, major British car manufacturers will go on selling hundreds of thousands of cars to Europe tariff-free. If we remain, British farmers will go on selling their beef and lamb to Europe tariff-free.

If we remain, British building firms will go on building homes, and people will have the confidence to do-up their own homes and shop with companies like yours.

And if we remain, our economy won’t lose half a million jobs, but instead we’ll create more than a million jobs over the coming years.

That is the brighter future on offer for our country.

We’ve spent 6 years dealing with what happens when recession hits this country – we’ve got one month to make sure we don’t do it to ourselves all over again.

One month to avoid a DIY recession.

The Treasury analysis shows Britain will be stronger, safer and better off if we vote to remain in the EU on 23 June.

George Osborne – 2016 Concluding Statement on IMF Article IV


Below is the text of the speech made by George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on 13 May 2016.

I’m delighted to welcome Christine Lagarde and her team to the Treasury this morning, so they can outline the findings of the IMF’s annual Article 4 assessment of the British economy.

The Article 4 assessment plays an important role in providing independent scrutiny of the prospects for our economy, and today the IMF report on a British economy that is growing, with low unemployment and rising wages.

We’ve got that growing economy thanks to the hard work of the British people and because we’ve stuck to our long term plan.

But there are many challenges we need to address if we are going to go on raising living standards, and the IMF help us to identify them.

I can say that we accept the broad conclusions of their report today.

First, they urge us to go on repairing the public finances.

We’ve made huge progress in reducing the record deficit of more than 10% we inherited to around 3% this year, but it is still too high.

I welcome the IMF’s endorsement of our plan to continue to bring stability to our finances – and their acknowledgment that the pace of additional consolidation set out at the recent Budget was, in their words, “appropriate”.

Second, the IMF remind us of the big challenge we, like other advanced economies, face on productivity growth.

This is a challenge we acknowledge, and one we’ve already taken steps to tackle – with initiatives from the apprenticeship levy to the National Infrastructure Commission – and in next week’s Queen’s Speech there will be a number of major measures to do even more to make Britain’s economy fit for the modern age.

The third challenge is the current account.

A wide current account deficit leaves the UK reliant on financing from abroad, and more exposed to economic risks than we’d like.

We’re taking steps to reduce it, including mobilising the whole government behind our exports strategy, and as the IMF has said, our plan to repair the public finances will support a gradual narrowing of the current account.

This year’s Article IV mission comes alongside the IMF’s Financial Sector Assessment Program of the UK, which is conducted once every five years.

This is an innovation since the financial crisis that ensures major financial centres are subject to international scrutiny.

I’m glad the IMF acknowledge the enormous progress we’ve made under this government to make our financial sector stronger, to improve dramatically our financial supervision, and to ensure Britain is better prepared for any financial shocks.

So in the view of the IMF, the UK economy is set on a positive course: with rising incomes, more jobs and a sound financial system.

That is what is on offer if we remain in the EU.

For the IMF have been in town for this Article 4 as Britain prepares to take what the Fund describe as a “momentous decision” on whether to remain in the European Union, or leave.

The IMF are clear that even the prospect of a leave vote is already having an impact on investment and hiring decisions, and weighing on economic growth in the UK.

But the Fund are also clear that this could be a mere taste of things to come if we vote to leave.

The IMF today finds that a vote to leave would cause a “protracted period of heightened uncertainty”, “financial market volatility” and a “hit to output” – in other words, a hit to growth.

They say that the long term impact on incomes in Britain would “likely be negative and substantial,” and they note that the market reaction to these adverse economic effects could entail:

a “sudden stop of investment inflows into key sectors”
“sharp drops” in house prices
and “sharp drops” in equity or share prices too
and the costs of borrowing for households and businesses could rise
And the IMF also put to rest the fallacy that’s been peddled by those who say Britain will have more money for public services if we’re not paying into the EU budget.

The IMF are very clear today: the hit to growth we could expect from a vote to leave would cost our public finances more than the amount we’d gain from no longer contributing to the EU budget.

Put simply, the IMF says a vote to leave costs us money.

We’d have less to spend on public services like schools and the NHS if we leave the EU.

Ahead of this historic referendum the British people have been clear: they want facts, and they want credible independent opinion to help inform their decision.

Today the independent IMF reinforce the conclusions of the independent Bank of England.

These are the facts that the British people need to hear. If we vote to leave, British families will be poorer and Britain will be poorer. Incomes would be hit, businesses would suffer, and we’d have less money to spend.

That’s if we vote to leave. But there’s a positive future for Britain on offer if we stay in the EU. Our economy is expected to keep on growing, businesses will keep creating jobs and families will benefit from rising wages and living standards.

Let’s not put all that at risk with a leap in the dark.

George Osborne – 2016 Speech on the EU Made at Ryanair, Stansted


Below is the text of the speech made by George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at Ryanair in Stansted Airport, on 16 May 2016.

Thank you Michael [O’Leary]. It’s good to be here at Ryanair today.

Ed Balls, Vince Cable and I are from different political parties.

We fought each other at the last general election with different economic arguments and we’ve clashed repeatedly in the House of Commons over the years.

But there’s one thing we all agree on.

And it’s that it would be a huge mistake for Britain to leave the EU and to leave the Single Market And we’ve come here today to Ryanair to make that point.

You are an Irish company, but you’ve got 3,000 thousand employees here in Britain, flying 41 million British passengers to over 200 destinations every year.

That would not be possible without the Single Market.

And it’s because you’re part of a growing British economy that you’re announcing today a plan to invest $1.4 billion this year – that’s almost £1 billion – and create 450 new jobs in the UK.

And you are very clear: those are jobs and investment that would be at risk if we left the EU.

It’s one, very practical example of what is at stake on June 23rd when we vote in this referendum.

In the past week we’ve seen two defining moments in the campaign.

The first was the 24 hour period when both the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England, and the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund told us that Britain’s economy would suffer if we left the EU.

Their message could not have been clearer: Britain will be poorer and the British people will be poorer.

A vote to leave could see family incomes fall, growth hit, and borrowing costs rise.

It is difficult to think of more credible observers of the British economy than the 9 members of the Monetary Policy Committee and the staff of the International Monetary Fund.

And they join a line of observers that range from the OECD, to the London School of Economics, to 8 former US Treasury secretaries, to the President of the United States of America, to the Prime Minister of Japan, to the leaders of Australia and New Zealand – indeed every member of the G20, every one of our major trading partners and every major international financial institution has been unequivocal: leaving the EU would come at an economic cost.

And what has been the response of the leave campaign?

They say it’s all a massive conspiracy.

So that’s everyone from Mark Carney to Christine Lagarde, to Barack Obama, to the entire editorial team at ITV, the staff at the IMF and the OECD, to hundreds of economists, a majority of leaders of small, medium and large firms – they think they’re all part of some global stitch up to give misinformation to the British people.

The next thing we know the Leave camp will be accusing us all of faking the moon landings, kidnapping Shergar, and covering up the existence of the Loch Ness monster.

The response to the sober economic warnings from around the world by those who want to leave the EU has not been credible or serious.

There is a reason the three of us are standing here today, putting aside our very obvious differences.

It’s not a conspiracy – it’s called a consensus.

The interventions of the last couple of weeks, from the IMF to the Bank of England make very clear that the economic argument is beyond doubt.

Britain will be worse off if we leave the EU. British families will be worse off – equivalent to £4,300 per household.

Leaving the EU is a one way ticket to a poorer country.

This emergence of this overwhelming consensus has been one of the defining moments of the last week. But there is now a second key development and it’s just as revealing.

And that is that the leading advocates for Britain leaving the EU have finally conceded – after weeks of evasive answers – that not only do they want Britain to leave the European Union, they want us to leave the Single Market too.

It’s a major admission from the leave campaign – and a major moment. For it means we can begin to quantify just what the economic costs of leaving are.

And it’s important for everyone in Britain to understand what the Single Market is.

This is the arrangement that Margaret Thatcher took us into in the 1980s.

The arrangement that the House of Commons, under Labour, Conservative and Coalition governments has endorsed.

The Single Market gives British companies and the people who work for them access to half a billion customers. It is the world’s largest trading area.

It means that when you sell something like a car, or an aeroplane engine, or a plane ticket or a food product, they can all be sold to consumers in other European countries without paying any tariffs or customs duties – in other words, there’s no extra costs to selling to our neighbours.

And it means we, as consumers, can buy those things from our European neighbours without us having to pay extra costs for doing so.

It also means we can offer services like insurance premiums and architectural designs and pensions and engineering plans direct to customers in Europe and vice versa.

The Single Market is more than just a free trade area. It’s a set of common standards.

And in an age when we’re buying and selling things on the internet, it’s more important than ever.

The Single Market means that when we buy things from companies, we know that they’re safe, that they don’t cause environmental damage, that the labelling is accurate and that you know you’re going to get what you pay for.

In the European Single Market instead of having 28 sets of rules, we have one agreed set of rules, that Britain helps shape and influence.

If we leave the EU Single Market we would lose all of that.

Ed Balls and Vince Cable are going to explain what this means in practice for British companies, British workforces and British consumers.

But I can tell you today what the overall impact on the British economy would be.

In recent weeks the leave campaign have made clear they would be prepared to see Britain leave the EU and fall back on default World Trade Organisation rules.

This is the worst case scenario and would be a disaster for the British economy.

New Treasury analysis shows that if we left the Single Market and relied on the rules of the World Trade Organisation, then after 15 years we’d be doing £200 billion less trade every year, in today’s terms.

And we’d miss out on over £200 billion of overseas investment into our country.

And let me tell you what £200 billion less trade every year and £200 billion less overseas investment means.

It means we don’t see the new jobs and facilities like we see here today at Ryanair.

It means less investment in offices, factories, car plants, shopping centres, high street shops and local industrial estates.

It means companies don’t sell as much, don’t make as much, don’t employ as much.

What does all that mean for you? It means fewer jobs, lower incomes and higher prices in the shops.

So let me end by saying this – the British people want to know the facts. In the last week we’ve learnt two key facts.

Fact: we now know the Leave campaign want to take us out of both European Union and the Single Market.

Fact: we know that the overwhelming consensus of the independent economic experts is that Britain would be poorer if we left.

And from those two facts, we can work this out:

Those who will pay the price if we leave the EU are the working people up and down this country, doing the right thing, providing for their families, worrying about their children’s future; these are the people that politicians from all parties should seek to represent.

These are the working people who will be stronger, safer and better off if we remain in the EU.

George Osborne – 2016 Speech on HM Treasury Analysis of Leaving the EU


Below is the text of the speech made by George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in Bristol on 18 April 2016.

Good morning.

It’s great to be here at the brilliant National Composite Centre in Bristol, and good to be joined by my colleagues Liz, Stephen and Amber.

The engineers, scientists and designers who work here deliver world-leading research and innovation in composites for some of Britain’s most important industries.

One sector that particularly benefits from the work of the National Composite Centre is aerospace. The South West is a great showcase for Britain’s successful aerospace industry.

Half of everything our aerospace sector exports is sold to the European Union, and our aerospace industry relies on imports from Europe to make their finished products.

We’re here to talk about Europe today.

In a little over two months’ time the people of the United Kingdom will decide whether our country should remain in the European Union or leave it.

It’s the biggest decision for a generation – one that will have profound consequences for our economy, for living standards and for Britain’s role in the world.

But what many people are saying at the moment is that they don’t have enough facts and information to make an informed decision.

And so it’s up to all of us who fought so hard to give people this referendum, so they could take this momentous decision, to provide those facts and that information.

That’s why today the government is publishing a comprehensive Treasury analysis of the long-term economic impact of EU membership and the alternatives.

This is a sober and serious look at the costs and benefits of remaining in the EU, or leaving it.

Not just for Britain, but for the individual families of Britain.

To put it simply: are you better off or worse off if Britain leaves the EU?

Has your family got more money each year, or less?

And is there more or less money available to your government to spend on public services and lower taxes?

To find the answer to those questions, the Treasury has gone back to first principles and looked at the current costs and benefits of our membership of the European Union – essentially what we put in and what we get out.

We’ve also looked at how that would change if the EU were to reform along the lines it has committed itself to.

And we’ve looked at the costs and benefits of leaving the European Union.

Not the immediate shock – a future Treasury study will look in detail at that.

But rather the long term impact that our exit from the EU would have on family finances and the nation’s finances.

We’ve done that by examining in detail what the alternatives to EU membership look like for Britain’s economy. We know now pretty clearly what those alternatives might be, although we don’t know which one Britain would pick, or our European neighbours would accept.

There’s seeking membership of the European Economic Area, where you get access to part of the single market but you have to pay into the EU and accept free movement, without any say over either. That’s the Norway model.

There’s relying on our existing membership of the World Trade Organisation where, like Russia or Brazil, you put nothing into the EU but get nothing out in terms of preferential access. That’s the WTO model.

And then there’s the halfway house of trying to negotiate a bilateral trade deal with the EU, where you get some trade access but you’re not part of the Single Market. That’s the Canada model.

It’s a complete fantasy to claim we could negotiate some other deal, where we have access to the EU’s single market but don’t have to accept the costs and obligations of EU membership. Other member states have made it very clear in recent weeks that’s not on offer – and how could it be?

How could other European countries give us a better deal than they have given themselves? Never forget that while 44% of our exports go to the rest of the EU, less than 8% of their exports come to us.

So in today’s analysis we look at the costs and benefits of our existing membership of the EU, and test that against the three realistic alternative models – like that of Norway, the WTO and Canada.

Shortly I will ask my colleagues Liz, Stephen and Amber to go through each alternative in turn.

But first let me say something about the underlying economic assumptions that were made, and upon which the analysis rests.

We assume that the underlying objective of economic policy is to increase living standards through the creation of jobs, rising household incomes, and low and stable prices for consumers.

You may have other policy objectives that you think trump those objectives – but the purpose of economic policy is higher living standards.

It’s well established in economic literature that those higher living standards are ultimately driven by long term improvements in productivity: in other words, increasing the value of what British workers produce per hour. And it is also a well-established doctrine of British economic thinking over centuries that greater economic openness and interconnectedness helps raise productivity.

That’s because greater openness to trade and investment increases competition, enhances incentives for firms to innovate, and gives them access to finance – this enables them to invest and employ people, and it gives consumers access to more choice and lower prices.

Now I accept there are those who advocate a completely different economic approach – a closed, command economy, and no free trade or competition or private business.

But that’s never been the consensus in Britain, or the rest of the world these last few decades.

And those most prominent in advocating our withdrawal from the EU do so, in part, with the claim it will lead to freer trade and freer markets – so they share these basic assumptions about the advantages of economic openness too.

In this document the Treasury therefore assess the alternatives to EU membership, and see whether they enhance or diminish our economic openness and interconnectedness and by how much.

First, is market access increased or reduced? In other words, do British businesses and consumers face tariffs, quotas and unfair competition or other barriers?

Second, is Britain’s economic influence enhanced or curtailed? What say do we have over the rules and standards that apply to the goods and services we trade in?

Third, are the costs to Britain greater or less? What do we end up paying for a different trading relationship? We know the answer to these tests with Britain’s current membership of the EU.

When it comes to market access, there are no tariffs or quotas applied to British exports to the 500 million consumers who live in the European Union.

But a Single Market is about more than the absence of quotas and tariffs – it means common standards, so there aren’t invisible barriers and obstacles to trade.

So, for example, when a highly skilled car maker is building a car, they know it can be sold directly and without any hindrance into the continent of Europe.

It also means a British-based architect or engineer can get off the plane in Munich or Madrid and immediately start doing business.

And it means that any European airline can offer the best service at the best price to provide that journey.

That’s what the Single Market means – and the Treasury analysis shows EU membership has increased trade with EU members by around three quarters.

Greater openness leading to higher productivity and rising living standards.

We also know that our current EU membership gives us influence over the rules and standards of that Single Market – we have votes over what they are, our Commissioners can help design them, our Ministers and elected MEPs can shape them, and on key issues like common tax standards we have an absolute veto.

But we are not in the single currency and we are not in the Schengen free border area – so we have a special status in the EU.

That gives us the best of both worlds: influence over the single market without the obligations that membership of the euro and open borders would bring.

And we know what the costs and the financial rewards of being in the EU are.

We pay into the EU budget, but our citizens, businesses and universities also receive money from the EU budget.

The net direct cost is equivalent to a little over 1 pence for every £1 we raise in taxes.

But we have also received over £1 trillion of overseas investment into Britain, much of it driven by the fact we are in the EU and its Single Market.

Indeed, we have received more of this overseas investment than any other EU member state – and that drives better jobs and rising living standards too, bringing money into the exchequer to spend on public services.

So we know how our existing membership of the EU performs against these tests of openness and interconnectedness.

We also know the advantages that future reform of the EU can bring for Britain.

For the EU is not perfect. The Single Market can be expanded, the costs can be reduced, and the influence of Members States can be enhanced.

That’s what the new settlement, negotiated by the Prime Minister, supported by the Cabinet, delivers.

The Treasury analysis shows that achieving EU-wide reforms to deepen the Single Market and complete major ongoing trade deals offers a huge prize for Britain.

It could add up to 4% to our GDP over the coming 15 years – that’s thousands of pounds more for each British household.

So Britain’s membership of the European Union contributes to the openness of our economy – and that leads to higher quality jobs, rising living standards and lower prices.

And we know there will be better jobs, higher living standards and even lower prices if Europe reforms.

That’s the future on offer if Britain remains in a reformed EU – a future where we are stronger, safer and better off.

What does the Treasury’s rigorous economic analysis show about the alternatives?

Let me hand over to my colleagues Liz, Stephen and Amber. They will go through each of the alternative models – like that of Norway, the WTO and Canada – and look at what they would mean for British families.

Elizabeth Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The document published today shows how one of the big advantages of being in the European Union is the ability we have to shape the rules.

Our record shows that reforms are more likely with Britain around the EU table:

Throughout the 80s we drove trade liberalisation in Europe, with action to break down barriers to the free movement of goods, services, capital and people which meant the creation of the Single Market as we know it today.

In the early 90s it was Britain who pushed to dismantle national barriers to air travel and open Europe’s air transport up to competition, which led to the creation of low cost carriers, and helped cut the cost of air travel by 40% in just 8 years.

And in the last decade it’s been Britain pushing to deepen the Single Market in digital services – simplifying rules for cross-border online purchases, and supporting a package to end mobile roaming charges in the EU.

So we’ve proven we can influence the rules from the inside. The question is could we shape them from the outside? If we left the EU some say we could be like Norway.

Norway isn’t in the EU, but it is in another group called the European Economic Area

On paper it looks pretty similar to our relationship with the EU.

We would still be in a European club – albeit a different one.

We’d still pay contributions to support other EU member states.

We’d still implement EU legislation.

But there would be a crucial difference.

We’d have no say over the rules.

Our Prime Minister would no longer have a seat at the European Council, where EU leaders take decisions about the future direction of the continent.

No British Minister would be there when farming issues were decided – or indeed any other issue that impacts our country.

We would have no vote in the Council of Ministers – the body where the 28 EU Member States decide on legislation.

But we’d still have to implement their decisions on the internal market, and follow their rules on State Aid and competition.

The current EEA members take this on the chin.

For Norway, that means losing a vote share that inside the EU would be worth 1%.

That’s a pretty low price.

But what about Britain?

Our vote share would drop from one of the highest, alongside France and Germany, to zero.

Our strong, reforming voice would be silenced.

That’s what I call a loss of British sovereignty.

But it’s not just the lack of influence that worries me about the Norway model.

It’s the fact that the EEA tariff-free trade doesn’t cover key areas like the vast majority of agriculture and fisheries, so Britain’s farmers would be hit.

It’s the fact that EEA members aren’t part of the EU customs union, so British firms would face new customs checks and bureaucracy if they wanted to trade with Europe.

Every time Norway exports a product to an EU country, they have to fill in a form with 50 boxes and guidance that is 78 pages long.

This must be frustrating for Norway, even though many of their exports are raw materials, making these forms easier to comply with. But it would be a nightmare for Britain as many of our exports are complex finished products like cars or machinery.

All this new bureaucracy would significantly reduce our openness and interconnectedness – reducing the competitiveness of British firms and acting as a drag on our productivity.

And being part of the EEA means still accepting EU regulations, contributing to the EU, and permitting the free movement of people,

So if we decided to be like Norway, we’d have worse access to the Single Market. We’d keep paying into Brussels but we’d be a rule-taker instead of a rule-maker.

The Treasury has run the numbers and joining the EEA would significantly reduce our openness to trade, and as a result, productivity and investment would fall.

Let’s be clear on this – because we know that increasing productivity is the key to increasing living standards. If productivity falls we will see lower wages in Britain; consumption will fall and people will be permanently poorer.

The analysis published today shows that following this path would mean a long-term reduction in GDP of around 4% every year.

And this long-term reduction in GDP will hit our tax receipts as people and businesses earn less.

The impact on tax receipts of joining the EEA would be £20 billion a year within 15 years’ time. Not a one-off hit, but an ongoing painful reduction as our country raises less money, and has less money to spend on public services.

Those are the facts on the European Economic Area.

So the analysis shows if we want to minimise the significant damage to our economy from leaving, we would, effectively, have to re-join another European club on worse terms – no vote, no power, still paying into the EU, and with much less protection against the abuse of free movement.

For a country the size of Britain, with the strong voting clout we already have in the EU, this would represent shooting ourselves in the foot.

Stephen Crabb, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Next I want to talk to you about global trade. There are some who imply there’s a tension between trading with Europe and trading with the rest of the world.

That is simply wrong. Both are good and we need to do both.

And that’s exactly what we will do if we remain a member of the EU.

Yes, nearly half of our exports go to Europe, but our exports to the rest of the world have gone from £150 billion to £290 billion in just 10 years – that’s a 95% increase.

And to those who say that’s proof we don’t need the EU, just look at where they’ve increased the most.

We currently benefit from trade deals the EU has negotiated with over 50 other countries.

And as today’s document explains, those deals have been great for Britain.

Our exports to South Korea have grown by over 100% in just four years since the EU Free Trade Agreement was signed. Exports to Chile have grown almost 300% in a decade.

Those other countries will have given up a lot in negotiations to gain access to a bloc with 500 million customers and a quarter of the world’s GDP.

But if we vote to leave, we’ll only have two years before all the trade deals we have via the EU would fall away. The clock would be ticking, yet renegotiating trade deals with more than 50 countries as a single country would take many, many years.

And that’s if we can even get the talks off the ground: the US Trade Representative recently said the United States is “not particularly in the market for free trade agreements with individual countries”.

Some argue there’s no need to worry – we could just fall back on the existing World Trade Organisation rules. Now let me be absolutely clear. The WTO is a brilliant organisation and one that Britain is proud to be a member of.

But their rules are a sort of ‘minimum standard’ for global trade – and they fall way short of the Single Market and Free Trade Agreements we currently access through the EU. Under WTO rules we’d face common export tariffs.

The EU would charge an average tariff of 36% on dairy products. 12% on fish. 12% on clothes. 10% on cars.

Our services exporters would be hit too – as they’d lose their automatic right not to be discriminated against through being part of the Single Market.

And we’d have to decide where to set British import tariffs.

Would we choose to set high tariffs on food, to protect British farmers?

Or would we set low tariffs on food, to protect British consumers?

Regardless of what we decided on import tariffs – there’s a catch.

WTO rules would require us to offer the same tariff to all countries.

So if we wanted to offer low tariffs to our neighbours in Ireland, we’d have to do the same for all other 160 countries in the WTO.

So for example, we’d have to offer low tariffs to countries like Brazil and Argentina while they apply high tariffs on our key exports, like Scotch Whisky at 20% in Argentina, and cars at 35% in Brazil.

Trade deals are about give and take, but we’d have turned up to the table having already played all our cards. The analysis published today shows that the WTO scenario represents the most extreme break from the EU, and it is also the alternative that is the worst for the British economy.

The sharp reduction in trade would be accompanied by a reduction in foreign direct investment into the UK as we’d no longer have the same degree of unrestricted access to the EU Single Market of 500 million consumers. Think of all the global firms that have headquarters in the UK so they can sell into Europe – if we leave the EU, they could leave Britain.

The Treasury’s rigorous analysis of the trade and investment impact of the WTO option shows that after 15 years Britain’s economy would be around 7.5% smaller.

And the fiscal cost of the WTO option is the most painful of all – in the long term our country would have to cope with annual tax receipts that are £45 billion lower. Every year.

Conclusive proof that when it comes to trade, openness and economic growth, it’s better to go for the best deal available rather than the lowest common denominator.

Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

As the document today explains, one of the most valuable benefits of EU membership for Britain is the Single Market. And that Single Market is not just in goods, but in services too.

So what does a Single Market in services mean, and why does it matter?

It matters because 80% of our GDP comes from the services sector, and 80% of our workforce are employed in the services sector.

Britain is the country that designs the building, arranges the finance, insures the business, draws up the contract, produces the TV series, creates the advertising campaign and audits the accounts. High skilled service industries like these are vital for our future.

The Single Market means that all of our exports can be sold to Europe tariff-free.

And crucially it isn’t just tariff barriers that the EU has eliminated for Britain.

The Single Market seeks to eradicate non-tariff barriers too. So a British architect or a British lawyer can go and work in any other European country and have their professional qualifications recognised.

And the creation of passporting rights in the 90s means that financial services firms like banks, insurers and investment managers can establish themselves anywhere in the EU, and trade across the whole Single Market, with lower cost and lower complexity.

The figures speak for themselves.

Our service industries are growing at a rate of nearly 3% a year on average.

Our services exports have increased from £130 billion to £220 billion in the past decade alone – with Europe being by far our biggest market.

I accept the European Single Market for services is not yet complete – that’s why commitments to complete it formed such a key part of the Prime Minister’s recent negotiation.

But the results clearly show that the Single Market has benefitted our services sector.

Now I want to look at the final alternative scenario the Treasury has modelled: a negotiated bilateral agreement.

They’ve looked closely at countries like Switzerland and Canada who’ve negotiated bilateral trade deals with the EU.

The Canada free trade agreement seems to be the most popular with those who want to leave, so let’s look at its benefits and costs, and contrast it to EU membership.

It’s been held up as the most comprehensive Free Trade Agreement the EU has ever made.

It’s a vast, detailed agreement that runs to over 1500 pages – although 800 of those pages are exemptions and barriers to free trade.

And remember it’s not in place just yet.

Canada spent 7 years negotiating the deal, waiting outside the door as those on the inside decided whether to agree.

But when it comes into force it may work well for Canada and for the EU.

However, I’m not so sure it would work well for us.

Their deal does offer some liberalisation in services it’s true. But the Canadians export about a tenth of the value of services to Europe than we do.

And the Treasury analysis finds that around 50% of our service exporters would face materially less access to the EU market than they currently enjoy if we were to replicate the Canadian deal.

In addition, Canada doesn’t have access to the financial services passport.

This would be a real problem for Britain. If we left the EU and lost access to passporting rights the evidence suggests that financial services jobs would move out of Britain.

But it’s not just services where the Canadian deal wouldn’t work for us.

On agriculture, key sectors are excluded from the Canadian deal.

Take beef for example. We currently export over 90,000 tonnes of beef a year to Europe tariff-free, and if we wanted to sell more then we could.

The Canadian agreement allows them a quota of 50,000 tonnes, above which they would be subject to some tariffs equivalent to around 70%.

If we voted to leave then a reciprocal deal would badly hurt British beef farmers.

And how about another example – cars. Our car manufacturing sector is thriving, but as you’ve already heard from Stephen, the EU places a 10% tariff on cars from outside the EU.

This would cost our industry more than £1 billion a year, and the Canadian deal only eliminates them after 7 years.

So even though the Canadian Free Trade model is put forward as the best and most comprehensive option by those who want to leave, it’s clear there are some crucial gaps for a country like Britain.

The Treasury analysis published today shows that a Free Trade Arrangement like Canada’s would have a significantly negative impact on our trade, investment and productivity.

After 15 years Britain’s economy would be around 6% smaller, compared to 3.8% smaller were we to join the EEA.

So even the best bilateral trade deal the EU has agreed with an outside country is significantly worse than the access you’d get to the Single Market through the EEA.

George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer

So you’ve heard today the serious and sober Treasury analysis, which sets out the costs and benefits of Britain’s membership of the European Union.

The costs of accepting common European standards; and the benefit that gives us of unique access to a Single Market of 500 million people.

The costs of being one voice among many when it comes to setting those standards; and the benefits of the influence that gives us to shape those rules to our advantage, and extend our trade access around the world, so that when it comes to our economic environment, Britain is a rule-maker not a rule-taker.

The costs of directly contributing a little over 1 penny in every 1 pound of taxes; and the direct benefits of the billions of pounds of foreign investment which flow more to Britain than any other European country and boosts our public finances.

Deliver the economic reform we’ve agreed in the European Union, and the benefits are even clearer.

The analysis shows that our economy could be 4% greater if we extend that Single Market and do more free trade.

These economic costs and benefits of EU membership, with or without this brighter, positive future need to be weighed against the economic costs and benefits of all the plausible alternatives for Britain.

The Norway model – where we gain partial access to the Single Market, but face customs barriers and have no influence over the rules we’re forced to abide by.

Where we lose trade and investment, but still have to pay into the EU and accept free movement of people. The WTO model, where barriers are erected by our nearest and most important markets, everything we make from food to cars to clothing and all the services we provide – with severe consequences for our industry and the size of our economy.

The Canadian model, where our services that make up 80% of our economy cannot do business freely with Europe, and the integrated supply chains that are a feature of our advanced manufacturing face customs barriers for the first time in half a century.

Under any of these alternative models of the kind of relationship Britain might have with its principal export markets our influence is diminished; we trade less; we receive less investment; our openness and interconnectedness to Europe is reduced.

And you’d have to believe that we could more than compensate for that loss of trade and investment with Europe, by increasing trade and investment with the rest of the world.

But the evidence shows that our trade deals with more than 50 other non-EU countries would be jeopardised, and our ability to influence global trade rules would be hugely reduced.

We’d do less trade with the rest of the world outside the EU, not more.

The Treasury has modelled the economic impact of alternatives to EU membership.

As you’ve heard from my colleagues, the biggest impact comes if we just rely on being a member of the WTO.

The least impact comes if we try to form a relationship like Norway, but then we have to pay into European budgets and accept free movement – the very things those who want to leave claim they want to be rid of.

That’s why those most prominent in advocating British exit from the EU say we’d try to form an arrangement like Canada.

But we’re not Canada – our comparative advantage is in services and advanced manufacturing. 50% of all our services exports go to the continent of Europe.

So the economic analysis shows that this Canada-style arrangement comes at a real economic cost for Britain.

The central estimate is that in the long run GDP would be over 6% smaller and Britain would be worse off by £4,300 per household.

The people of Britain want to know the facts before they vote on 23 June.

The Treasury’s analysis steps away from the rhetoric and sets out the facts.

Britain would be permanently poorer if it left the European Union. Under any alternative, we’d trade less, do less business and receive less investment.

And the price would be paid by British families. Wages would be lower and prices would be higher.

And that means that Britain would be poorer by £4,300 per household.

That is £4,300 worse off every year, a bill paid year after year by the working people of Britain.

And that is the long term cost – in the short term we’d face a profound economic shock and real instability. This Treasury analysis is serious and sober – and it’s conclusive.

British families will pay a heavy economic price if we leave the EU.

And don’t believe the flimsy claim that at least we would get some money back by not paying our 1 penny in every £1 we raise in taxes to the European budget.

If we left the EU, we’d lose tens of billions of pounds in money for our public services, because our economy would be smaller and our families poorer.

The most likely bill our public services would pay if we left the EU is £36 billion.

That’s the equivalent of 8 pence on the basic rate of income tax.

Higher taxes and a smaller economy is not a price worth paying.

Of course, I know there will be many attempts by those who advocate exit to dismiss this Treasury analysis.

But it’s rigorous, it’s rooted in the facts and its conclusions are similar to every other credible independent analysis done around the world – from the recent global outlook of the IMF to the academic research of the London School of Economics.

And I would conclude by saying this:

It is a perfectly honest position to say that Britain would be worse off but that is a price worth paying.

But don’t pretend to the British people that leaving the EU comes at no economic cost.

There is a price to be paid if we leave – a £4,300 price that families will pay year after year.

Don’t let’s leave the EU on a false prospectus.

Let’s have the facts and the figures in front of us as we all make this huge decision on 23 June.

For me, in the end, it’s not just about the economics. It’s about who we are as a country.

The Britain I love is open, confident in its values and ready to shape the future of our world.

I don’t want Britain to be like Norway or like Canada or anyone else.

I want us to be like the Great Britain we are.

Strong. Proud. Prosperous.

Stronger, safer and better off in the European Union.

George Osborne – 2016 Budget Speech


Below is the text of the Budget Speech made by George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the House of Commons on 16 March 2016.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

Today I report on an economy set to grow faster than any other major advanced economy in the world.

I report on a labour market delivering the highest employment in our history.

And I report on a deficit down by two thirds, falling each year and – I can confirm today – on course for a budget surplus.

The British economy is stronger because we confronted our country’s problems and took the difficult decisions.

The British economy is growing because we didn’t seek short term fixes but pursued a long term economic plan.

The British economy is resilient because whatever the challenge, however strong the headwinds, we have held to the course we set out.

I must tell the House that we face such a challenge now.

Financial markets are turbulent.

Productivity growth across the west is too low.

And the outlook for the global economy is weak.

It makes for a dangerous cocktail of risks.

But one that Britain is well-prepared to handle, if we act now so we don’t pay later.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

Britain has learnt to its cost what happens when you base your economic policy on the assumption you have abolished boom and bust.

Britain is not immune to slowdowns and shocks.

Nor as a nation are we powerless.

We have a choice.

We can choose to add to the risk and uncertainty, or we can be a force for stability.

In this Budget we choose to put stability first.

Britain can choose, as others are, short term fixes and more stimulus.

Or we can lead the world with long term solutions to long term problems.

In this Budget we choose the long term.

We choose to put the next generation first.

Sound public finances to deliver security,

Lower taxes on business and enterprise to create jobs,

Reform to improve schools, investment to build homes and infrastructure – because we know that’s the only way to deliver real opportunity and social mobility.

And we know that the best way we can help working people is to help them to save and let them keep more of the money they earn.

That is the path we followed over the past five years.

And it’s given us one of the strongest economies in the world.

And that is the path we will follow in the years ahead.

In this Budget we redouble our efforts to make Britain fit for the future.

Mr Deputy Speaker, let me turn to the economic forecasts.

I want to thank Robert Chote and his team at the Office for Budget Responsibility.

To make sure they have available to them the best statistics in the world I am today accepting all of the recommendations of Sir Charlie Bean’s excellent report.

I also want to take this moment to thank another great public servant, Sir Nicholas Macpherson.

He has served as Permanent Secretary to the Treasury for ten years, under three very different Chancellors, and throughout he has always demonstrated the great British civil service values of integrity and impartiality.

He’s here today to watch the last of 34 Budgets he’s worked on, and on behalf of the House and the dedicated officials in the Treasury, I thank him for his service.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

The OBR tell us today that in every year of the forecast our economy grows and so too does our productivity.

But they have revised down growth in the world economy and in world trade.

In their words, the outlook is “materially weaker”.

They point to the turbulence in financial markets, slower growth in emerging economies like China, and weak growth across the developed world.

Around the globe, they note that monetary policy – instead of normalising this year as expected – has been further loosened.

We’ve seen the Bank of Japan join Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland and the European Central Bank with unprecedented negative interest rates.

The OBR also note that this reflects concerns across the West about low productivity growth.

The Secretary General of the OECD said last month that “productivity growth… has been decelerating in a vast majority of countries”.

As a result, the most significant change the OBR have made since their November forecast is their decision to revise down potential UK productivity growth.

The OBR had thought that what they describe as the “drag from the financial crisis” on our productivity would have eased by now, but the latest data shows it has not.

The OBR acknowledge today that this revision is, in their words, a “highly uncertain” judgement call.

But I back them 100%.

We saw under the last government what happened when a Chancellor of the Exchequer revised up the trend growth rate, spent money the country didn’t have, and left it to the next generation to pick up the bill.

I’m not going to let that happen on my watch.

These days, thanks to the fact we have established independent forecasts, our country is confronted with the truth as economic challenges emerge, and can act on them before it’s too late.

We fix our plans to fit the figures; we don’t fix the figures to fit the plans.

The IMF have warned us this month that the global economy is “at a delicate juncture” and faces a growing “risk of economic derailment”.

Eight years ago, Britain was the worst prepared of any of the major economies for the crisis we then faced.

Today, Britain is among the best prepared for whatever challenges may lie ahead.

That is what our long term economic plan has been all about.

When I became Chancellor we borrowed £1 in every £4 we spent. Next year it will be £1 in every £14. Our banks have doubled their capital ratios.

And we have doubled our foreign exchange reserves.

And we have a clear, consistent and accountable monetary policy framework, admired around the world.

The hard work of fixing our economy is paying off.

In 2014, we were the fastest growing major advanced economy in the world.

In 2015, we were ahead of everyone but America.

So let me give the OBR’s latest forecasts for our economic growth – in the face of the new assessment of productivity and the slowing global economy.

Last year, GDP grew by 2.2%.

The OBR now forecast it will grow by 2% this year, then 2.2% again in 2017, and then 2.1% in each of the three years after that.

The House will want to know how this compares to other countries.

I can confirm that, in these turbulent times, the latest international forecast expects Britain to grow faster this year than any other major advanced economy in the world.

Mr Deputy Speaker, the OBR are explicit today that their forecasts are predicated on Britain remaining in the European Union.

Over the next few months this country is going to debate the merits of leaving or remaining in the European Union, and I have many colleagues whom I respect greatly on both sides of this argument.

The OBR correctly stay out of the political debate and do not assess the long term costs and benefits of EU membership.

But they do say this, and I quote them directly: “a vote to leave in the forthcoming referendum could usher in an extended period of uncertainty regarding the precise terms of the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

This could have negative implications for activity via business and consumer confidence and might result in greater volatility in financial and other asset markets”.

Citing a number of external reports, the OBR say this:

“There appears to be a greater consensus that a vote to leave would result in a period of potentially disruptive uncertainty while the precise details of the UK’s new relationship with the EU were negotiated.”

Mr Deputy Speaker, the House knows my view.

Britain will be stronger, safer and better off inside a reformed European Union.

I believe we should not put at risk all the hard work that the British people have done to make our country strong again.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

Let me turn to the OBR forecast for the labour market.

Since the Autumn Statement just four months ago, the businesses in our economy have created over 150,000 more jobs than the OBR expected.

That’s 150,000 extra families with the security of work.

That’s 150,000 reasons to support our long term economic plan.

This morning unemployment fell again, employment reached the highest level ever, and the data confirms that we have the lowest proportion of people claiming out-of-work benefits since November 1974.

Now the OBR are forecasting a million more jobs over this Parliament.

Mr Deputy Speaker, in the last Parliament:

They claimed a million jobs would be lost.

Instead two million were created.

When the jobs started coming we were told they’d be low skilled.

But today we know almost 90% of the new jobs are in skilled occupations.

We were told the jobs would be part time.

But three quarters are full time.

We were told the jobs would all be in London.

But the unemployment rate is falling fastest in the North East.

Youth unemployment is falling fastest in the West Midlands.

Employment is growing fastest in the North West.

And in today’s forecast real wages continue to grow and outstrip inflation in each and every year.

The OBR forecasts lower inflation, at 0.7% this year and 1.6% next year.

I am today confirming in a letter to the Governor of the Bank of England that the remit for the Monetary Policy Committee remains the symmetric CPI inflation target of 2%.

I am also publishing the new remit for the Financial Policy Committee, the body we created to keep an eye on emerging long term risks in our financial system, asking them to be particularly vigilant in the face of current market turbulence.

Because in this Budget we act now so we don’t pay later.

Mr Deputy Speaker, that brings me to our approach to public spending and the OBR forecasts for our public finances.

In every year since 2010, I have been told that now is not the right time to cut government spending.

When the economy is growing, I’m told we can afford to spend more.

When the economy isn’t growing, I’m told we can’t afford not to.

Today, I’m publishing new analysis that shows that if we hadn’t taken the action we did in 2010, then cumulative borrowing would have been £930 billion more by the end of the decade than it is now forecast to be.

If we’d taken the advice, Britain would not have been one of the best prepared economies for the current global uncertainties; we would have been one of the worst prepared.

Now the very same people are saying to us we should spend more again.

I reject that dangerous advice.

The security of families and businesses depends on Britain living within its means.

Last autumn’s Spending Review delivers a reduction in government consumption that is judged by the OBR to be the most sustained undertaken in the last hundred years of British history – barring the periods of demobilisation after the first and second world wars.

My spending plans in the last parliament reduced the share of national income taken by the state from the unsustainable 45% we inherited, to 40% today.

My spending plans in this Parliament will see it fall to 36.9% by the end of this decade.

In other words, the country will be spending no more than the country raises in taxes.

And we are achieving this while at the same time increasing resources for our NHS and schools, building new infrastructure and increasing our security at home and abroad.

The OBR now tells us that the world has become more uncertain.

So we have two options.

We can ignore the latest information, and spend more than the country can afford.

That’s precisely the mistake that was made a decade ago.

Or we can live in the world as it is, and cut our cloth accordingly.

I say we act now, so we don’t pay later.

So I am asking my RHFs the Chief Secretary and the Paymaster General to undertake a further drive for efficiency and value for money.

The aim is to save a further £3.5 billion in the year 2019-20.

At less than half a percent of government spending in four years’ time, that is more than achievable while maintaining the protections we have set out.

At the same time we will continue to deliver sensible reforms to keep Britain living within its means.

On welfare, last week my RHF the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions set out changes that will ensure that within the rising disability budget, support is better targeted at those who need it most.

Let me confirm that this means the disability budget will still rise by more than £1 billion, and we’ll be spending more in real terms supporting disabled people than at any point under the last government.

On international aid, I am proud to be part of the government that was the first to honour Britain’s commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on development.

We won’t spend more than that, so the budget will be readjusted, saving £650 million in 2019-20.

We’re also going to keep public sector pensions sustainable.

We reformed them in the last Parliament which will save over £400 billion in the long term.

To ensure those pensions remain sustainable, we have carried out the regular revaluation of the discount rate and public sector employer contributions will rise as a result.

This will not affect anyone’s pension, and will be affordable within spending plans that are benefitting from the fiscal windfall of lower inflation.

Each of these decisions are a demonstration of our determination that the British economy will stay on course.

We will not burden our children and grandchildren. This is a Budget for the next generation.

Mr Deputy Speaker, let me now give the OBR’s forecasts for the debt and the deficit.

The combination of our action to reduce borrowing this year, along with the revisions to our nominal GDP driven by lower inflation, have produced this paradoxical result.

In cash terms the national debt is lower than it was forecast to be in the autumn, but so too is the nominal size of our economy.

We measure the fiscal target against debt to GDP.

So while debt as a percentage of GDP is above target and set to be higher in 2015-16 than the year before;

Compared to the forecast, the actual level of our national debt in cash is £9 billion lower.

In the future, debt falls to 82.6% next year, then 81.3% in 2017-18, then 79.9% the year after.

In 2019-20, it falls again to 77.2%, then down again the year after to 74.7%.

Let me turn to the forecast for the deficit.

When I became Chancellor, the deficit was forecast to reach 11.1% of national income – the highest level in the peacetime history of Britain.

Thanks to our sustained action, the deficit is forecast to fall next year to just over a quarter of that – at 2.9%. In 2017-18, it falls to 1.9%. Then it falls again to 1.0% in 2018-19.

In cash terms, in 2010, Britain was borrowing a totally unsustainable £150 billion a year.

This year we are expected to borrow less than half that, at £72.2 billion.

Indeed our borrowing this year is actually lower than the OBR forecast at the Autumn Statement.

Borrowing continues to fall – but not by as much as before – to £55.5 billion next year, £38.8 billion the year after that and £21.4 billion in 2018-19.

I know there has been concern that the challenging economic times mean we would lose our surplus the following year.

And that would have been the case if we had not taken further action today to control spending and make savings.

But because we have acted decisively, in 2019-20 Britain is set to have a surplus of £10.4 billion.

The surplus is then set to rise to £11.0 billion the year after. That’s 0.5% of GDP in both years.

We said we would take the action necessary to give Britain’s families economic security.

We said our country would not repeat the mistakes of the past – and instead live within its means.

Today we maintain that commitment to long term stability in challenging times.

Decisive action. To achieve a £10billion surplus.

We act now, so we don’t pay later.

We put the next generation first.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

In every Budget I’ve given, action against tax avoidance and evasion has contributed to the repair of our public finances.

And this Budget is no different.

In the Budget book we set out in detail the action we will take to:

Shut down disguised remuneration schemes;

Ensure that UK tax will be paid on UK property development;

Change the treatment of freeplays for remote gaming providers;

Limit capital gains tax treatment on performance rewards; and

Cap exempt gains in the Employee Shareholder Status.

Public sector organisations will have a new duty to ensure that those working for them pay the correct tax rather than giving a tax advantage to those who choose to contract their work through personal service companies.

Loans to participators will be taxed at 32.5% to prevent tax avoidance.

And we’ll tighten rules around the use of termination payments.

Termination payments over £30,000 are already subject to income tax. From 2018, they will also attract employer national insurance.

Taken altogether, the further steps in this Budget to stop tax evasion, prevent tax avoidance and tackle imbalances in the system will raise £12 billion for our country over this Parliament.

People talked about social justice but left enormous loopholes in our tax system for the very richest to exploit.

While the independent statistics confirm that since 2010:

Child poverty is down;

Pensioner poverty is down;

Inequality is down;

And the gender pay gap has never been smaller.

The distributional analysis published today shows that the proportion of welfare and public services going to the poorest has been protected.

And I can report that the latest figures confirm the richest 1% paid 28% of all income tax revenue. Proof that we are all in this together.

So Mr Deputy Speaker

I can report solid steady growth.

More jobs.

Lower inflation.

An economy on course for a surplus.

And all done in a fair way.

A Britain prepared for whatever the world throws at us.

Because we’ve stuck to our long term economic plan.

Credible fiscal policy and effective monetary policy has only ever been part of our plan.

A crucial ingredient has always been the lasting structural reforms needed to make our economy fit for the future.

And with new risks on the horizon, and with all Western countries looking for ways to increase living standards, now is not the time to go easy on our structural reforms.

It’s time to redouble our efforts.

My Budgets last year delivered key improvements to productivity like the Apprenticeship Levy, lower corporation tax and the National Living Wage.

My Budget this year sets out these further bold steps we need to take.

One. Fundamental reform of the business tax system. Loopholes closed. Reliefs reduced but so too are rates. And the result: a huge boost for small business and enterprise.

Two. A radical devolution of power so more of the responsibility and the rewards of economic growth are in the hands of local communities.

Three. Major new commitments to the national infrastructure projects of the future.

Four. Confronting the obstacles that stand in the way of important improvements to education and our children’s future.

And five. Backing people who work hard and save.

In short this Budget puts the next generation first.

Let me take each step in turn.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

In the last Parliament I cut corporation tax dramatically. But I also introduced the Diverted Profits Tax, to catch those trying to shift profits overseas.

As a result Britain went from one of the least competitive business tax regimes to the most competitive – and we raised much more money for public services.

Today the Financial Secretary and I are publishing a roadmap to make Britain’s business tax system fit for the future.

It will deliver a low tax regime that will attract the multinational businesses we want to see in Britain, but ensure that they pay taxes here too.

And it will level the playing field, which has been tilted against our small firms.

The approach we take is guided by the best practice set out by the OECD, work which Britain called for, Britain paid for and Britain will be among the very first to implement.

First, some multinationals deliberately over-borrow in the UK to fund activities abroad, and then deduct the interest bills against their UK profits.

So from April next year we will restrict interest deductibility for the largest companies at 30% of UK earnings, while making sure firms whose activities justify higher borrowing are protected with a group ratio rule.

Next, we’re setting new hybrid mismatch rules to stop the complex structures that allow some multinationals to avoid paying any tax anywhere, or to deduct the same expenses in more than one country.

Then, we’re going to strengthen our withholding tax on the royalty payments that allow some firms to shift money to tax havens.

And lastly we’re going to modernise the way we treat losses. We’re going to allow firms to use losses more flexibly in a way that will help over 70,000 mostly British companies.

But with these new flexibilities in place, we’ll do what other countries do and restrict the maximum amount of profits that can be offset using past losses to 50%.

This will only apply to the less than 1% of firms making profits over £5m – and the existing rules for historic losses in the banking sector will be tightened to 25%.

We’ll maintain our plans to align tax payment dates for the largest companies more closely to when profits are earned, but we will give firms longer to adjust to these changes which will now come into effect in April 2019.

All of these reforms to corporation tax will help create a modern tax code that better reflects the reality of the global economy.

Together, they raise £9 billion in extra revenue for the Exchequer.

But our policy is not to raise taxes on business.

Our policy is to lower taxes on business.

So everything we collect from the largest firms who are trying to pay no tax will be used to help millions of firms who pay their fair share of tax.

I can confirm today we’re going to reduce the rate of Corporation Tax even further.

That’s the rate Britain’s profit-making companies – large and small – have to pay.

And all the evidence shows it’s one of the most distortive and unproductive taxes there is.

Corporation Tax was 28% at the start of the last Parliament and we reduced it so that it’s 20% at the start of this one.

Last summer I set out a plan to cut it to 18% in coming years.

Today I am going further. By April 2020 it will fall to 17%

Britain is blazing a trail.

Let the rest of the world catch up.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

Cutting corporation tax is only part of our plan for the future.

I also want to address the great unfairness that many small businessmen and women feel when they compete against companies on the internet.

Sites like Ebay and Amazon have provided an incredible platform for many new small British start-ups to reach large numbers of customers.

But there’s been a big rise in overseas suppliers storing goods in Britain and selling them online without paying VAT.

That unfairly undercuts British businesses both on the internet and on the high street, and today I can announce that we are taking action to stop it.

That’s the first thing we do to help our small firms.

Second, we’re going to help the new world of micro-entrepreneurs who sell services online or rent out their homes through the internet.

Our tax system should be helping these people so I’m introducing two new tax-free allowances each worth £1,000 a year, for both trading and property income.

There will be no forms to fill in, no tax to pay – it’s a tax break for the digital age and at least half a million people will benefit.

On top of these two measures comes the biggest tax cut for business in this Budget.

Business rates are the fixed cost that weigh down on many small enterprises.

At present small business rate relief is only permanently available to firms with a rateable value of less than £6,000.

In the past I’ve been able to double it for one year only.

Today I am more than doubling it, and I’m more than doubling it permanently.

The new threshold for small business rate relief will raise from £6,000 to a maximum threshold of £15,000.

I’m also going to raise the threshold for the higher rate from £18,000 to £51,000.

Let me explain to the House what this means.

From April next year, 600,000 small businesses will pay no business rates at all.

That’s an annual saving for them of up to nearly £6,000 – forever.

A further quarter of a million businesses will see their rates cut.

In total, half of all British properties will see their business rates fall or be abolished altogether.

And to support all ratepayers, including larger stores who face tough competition and who employ so many people: we will radically simplify the administration of business rates, and from 2020, switch the uprating from the higher RPI to the lower CPI.

That’s a permanent long term saving for all businesses in Britain.

A typical corner shop in Barnstaple will pay no business rates.

A typical hairdressers in Leeds will pay no business rates.

A typical newsagents in Nuneaton will pay no business rates.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

This is a Budget which gets rid of loopholes for multinationals.

And gets rid of tax for small businesses.

A £7 billion tax cut, for our nation of shopkeepers.

A tax system that says to the world: we’re open for business.

A government that’s on your side.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

Just over a year ago, I reformed residential stamp duty. We moved from a distortive slab system to a much simpler slice system.

And as a result 98% of homebuyers are paying the same or less, and revenues from the expensive properties have risen.

The IMF welcomed the changes and suggest we do the same to commercial property.

So that’s what we’re going to do – and in a way that helps our small firms.

At the moment, a small firm can pay just £1 more for a property and face a tax bill three times as large. That makes no sense.

So from now on, commercial stamp duty will have a zero rate band on purchases up to £150,000; a 2% rate on the next £100,000; and a 5% top rate above £250,000.

There will also be a new 2% rate for those high value leases with a net present value above £5 million.

This new tax regime comes into effect from midnight tonight. There are transitional rules for purchasers who have exchanged, but not completed contracts before midnight.

These reforms raise £500 million a year. And while 9% will pay more; over 90% will see their tax bills cut or stay the same.

So, if you buy a pub in the Midlands worth, say, £270,000, you would today pay over £8,000 in stamp duty.
From tomorrow you will pay just £3,000.

It’s a big tax cut for small firms. All in a Budget that backs small business.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

Businesses also want a simpler tax system.

I’ve asked Angela Knight and John Whiting at the Office of Tax Simplification to look at what more we can do to make the tax system work better for small firms.

And I’m funding a dramatic improvement in the service that HMRC offers.

Many retailers have complained bitterly to me about the complexity of the Carbon Reduction Commitment. It’s not a commitment; it’s a tax.

So I can tell the House: we’re not going to reform it.

Instead I have decided to abolish it altogether.

And to make good the lost revenue – the Climate Change Levy will rise from 2019.

The most energy intensive industries like steel remain completely protected, and I’m extending the climate change agreements that help many others.

The Energy Secretary and I are announcing £730 million in further auctions to back renewable technologies. And we’re now inviting bids to help develop the next generation of small modular reactors.

We’re also going to help one of the most important and valued industries in our United Kingdom that has been severely affected by global events.

The Oil and Gas sector employs hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland and across our country.

In my Budget a year ago, I made major reductions to their taxes.

But the oil price has continued to fall. So we need to act now for the long term.

I am today cutting in half the Supplementary Charge on oil and gas from 20% to 10%.

And I’m effectively abolishing Petroleum Revenue Tax too.

Backing this key Scottish industry and supporting jobs right across Britain.

Both of these major tax cuts will be backdated so they are effective from the 1st of January this year, and my HF the Exchequer Secretary will work with the industry to give them our full support.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

We are only able to provide this kind of support to our oil and gas industry because of the broad shoulders of the United Kingdom.

None of this support would have been remotely affordable if, in just eight days’ time, Scotland had broken away from the rest of the UK, as the nationalists wanted.

Their own audit of Scotland’s public finances confirms they would have struggled from the start with a fiscal crisis under the burden of the highest budget deficit in the western world.

Thankfully, the Scottish people decided that we are better together in one United Kingdom.

Mr Deputy Speaker, believing in our United Kingdom is not the same as believing that every decision should be taken here in London.

That’s the next step in this Budget’s plan to make Britain fit for the future.

Because we know that if you want local communities to take responsibility for local growth, they have to be able to reap the rewards.

The government is delivering the most radical devolution of power in modern British history.

We’re devolving power to our nations.

The Scottish Secretary and I have agreed the new fiscal framework with Scotland.

We’re also opening negotiations on a city deal with Edinburgh; we back the new V&A in Dundee.

And in response to the powerful case made to me by Ruth Davidson we’re providing new community facilities for local people in Helensburgh and the Royal Navy personnel nearby at Faslane, paid for by LIBOR fines.

In Wales, we’re committed to devolving new powers to the Assembly and yesterday my RHF the Welsh Secretary signed a new billion pound deal for the Cardiff region.

We’re opening discussions on a city deal for Swansea and a growth deal for North Wales, so it’s better connected to our Northern Powerhouse.

I’ve listened to the case made by Welsh colleagues and I can announce today that from 2018 we are going to halve the price of the tolls on the Severn Crossings.

My RHF the Northern Ireland Secretary and I are working towards the devolution of corporation tax.

I am also extending enhanced capital allowances to the enterprise zone in Coleraine and we will use over £4 million from LIBOR fines to help establish the first Air Ambulance service for Northern Ireland.

Mr Deputy Speaker, in this Budget we make major further advances in the devolution of power within England too.

It was less than two years ago that I called for the creation of strong elected mayors to help us build a Northern Powerhouse.

Since then, powerful elected mayors have been agreed for Manchester, Liverpool, Tees Valley, the North East and Sheffield.

Over half of the population of the Northern Powerhouse will be able to elect a mayor accountable to them next year.

We will have an elected mayor for the West Midlands too.

These new devolution arrangements evolve and grow stronger.

Today I can tell the House that my RHF the Justice Secretary and I are transferring new powers over the criminal justice system to Greater Manchester.

This is the kind of progressive social policy that this Government is proud to pioneer.

And I can also announce to the House that today, for the first time, we have reached agreement to establish new elected mayors in our English counties and southern cities too.

I want to thank my RHF the Communities Secretary and my Treasury colleague Jim O’Neill for their superhuman efforts.

We’ve agreed a single powerful East Anglia combined authority, headed up by an elected Mayor and almost a billion pounds of new investment.

We’ve also agreed a new West of England mayoral authority – and they too will see almost a billion pounds invested locally.

And the authorities of Greater Lincolnshire will have new powers, new funding and a new mayor.

North, South, East and West – the devolution revolution is taking hold.

Mr Deputy Speaker

When I became Chancellor, 80% of local government funding came in largely ring-fenced grants from central government. It was the illusion of local democracy.

By the end of this Parliament, 100% of local government resources will come from local government – raised locally, spent locally, invested locally.

Our great capital city wants to lead the way.

The Mayor of London, and my HF for Richmond Park passionately argue for the devolution of business rates.

I can confirm today that the Greater London Authority will move towards full retention of its business rates from next April, three years early.

Michael Heseltine has accepted my invitation to lead a Thames Estuary Growth Commission and he will report to me with its ideas next year.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

In every international survey of our country, our failure for a generation to build new housing and new transport has been identified as a major problem.

But we are the builders.

Today we’re setting out measures to speed up our planning system, zone housing development and prepare the country for the arrival of 5G technology.

My RHF the Business Secretary will be bringing forward our innovation proposals.

And because we make savings in day to day spending we can accelerate capital investment and increase it as a share of GDP.

All exactly the things that a country focussed on its long term future should be doing.

Our new stamp duty rates on additional properties will come into effect next month. I’ve listened to colleagues and the rates will apply to large investors too.

We’re going to use receipts to support community housing trusts, including £20 million to help young families onto the housing ladder in the South West of England.

This is a brilliant idea from my HF for Truro and Falmouth, and other colleagues.

And it’s proof that when the South West votes blue, their voice is heard loud in Westminster.

And because under this government we’re not prepared to let people be left behind, I am also announcing a major new package of support worth over £115 million to support those who are homeless and reduce rough sleeping.

Last year, Mr Deputy Speaker, I established a new National Infrastructure Commission to advise us all on the big long-term decisions we need to boost our productivity.

I want to thank Andrew Adonis and his fellow Commissioners for getting off to such a strong start.

They’ve already produced three impressive reports.

They recommend much stronger links across northern England.

So we are giving the green light to High Speed 3 between Manchester and Leeds; finding new money to create a 4-lane M62; and will develop the case for a new tunnelled road from Manchester to Sheffield.

My HFs for Carlisle, Penrith and Hexham have told us not to neglect the North Pennines. So we’ll upgrade the A66 and A69 too.

I said we would build the Northern Powerhouse

We’ve put in place the mayors.

We’re building the roads.

We’re laying the track.

We’re making the Northern Powerhouse a reality and rebalancing our country.

I am also accepting the Infrastructure Commission’s recommendations on energy and on London transport.

The Government that is delivering Crossrail 1 will now commission Crossrail 2.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

Across Britain this Budget invests in infrastructure – from a more resilient train line in the South West, to crossings at Ipswich and Lowestoft in the East – we are making our country stronger.

To respond to the increasing extreme weather events our country is facing I am today proposing a further substantial increase in flood defences.

That would not be affordable within existing budgets.

So I am going to increase the standard rate of Insurance Premium Tax by just half a percentage point – and commit all the extra money we raise to flood defence spending.

That’s a £700 million boost to our resilience and flood defences.

The urgent review already underway by my RHFs the Environment Secretary and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will determine how the money is best spent.

But we can get started now. I have had many representations from colleagues across the House.

So we are giving the go ahead to the schemes for York, Leeds, Calder Valley, Carlisle and across Cumbria.

In this Budget we invest in our physical infrastructure and we invest in our cultural infrastructure too.

I am supporting specific projects from the Hall for Cornwall in Truro, to £13 million for Hull to make a success as the City of Culture.

Our Cathedral Repairs Fund has been enormously successful so I am extending it with an extra £20 million.

And in the four hundredth anniversary of the great playwright’s death, I have heard the sonnets from the RHM for Knowsley and we commit to a new Shakespeare North theatre, there on the site of the first indoor theatre outside of our capital.

While my HF for Newark has proposed that we introduce a new tax break for museums that develop exhibitions and take those exhibitions on tour.

It’s a great idea and we add that to our collection today.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

We cut taxes for business.

We devolve power.

We develop our infrastructure.

The next part of our plan to make Britain fit for the future is to improve the quality of our children’s’ education.

Providing great schooling is the single most important thing we can do to help any child from a disadvantaged background succeed.

It’s also the single most important thing we can do to boost the long-term productivity of our economy.

Because our nation’s productivity is no more and no less than the combined talents and efforts of the people of these islands.

That is why education reform has been so central to our mission.

Today we take these further steps.

First, I can announce that we are going to complete the task of setting schools free from local education bureaucracy, and we’re going to do it in this Parliament.

I am today providing extra funding so that by 2020 every primary and secondary school in England will be, or be in the process of becoming, an academy.

Second, we’re going to focus on the performance of schools in the north, where results have not been as strong as we’d like.

London’s school system has been turned around; we can do the same in the Northern Powerhouse and I’ve asked outstanding Bradford head teacher Sir Nick Weller to provide us with a plan.

Third, we are going to look at teaching maths to 18 for all pupils.

And fourth, we are going to introduce a fair National Funding Formula – and I’m today committing half a billion pounds to speed up its introduction.

We will consult, and our objective is to get over 90% of the schools that will benefit onto the new formula by the end of this parliament.

The Government delivering on its promise of fair funding for our schools.

Tomorrow my RHF the Education Secretary will publish a White Paper setting out further improvements we will make to the quality of education.

We will put the next generation first.

Doing the right thing for the next generation is what the government and this Budget is about, no matter how difficult and controversial it is.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

You cannot have a long term plan for the country unless you have a long term plan for our children’s healthcare. Here are the facts we know.

5 year old children are consuming their body weight in sugar every year.

Experts predict that within a generation over half of all boys, and 70% of girls could be overweight or obese.

Here’s another fact that we all know.

Obesity drives disease.

It increases the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease – and it costs our economy £27 billion a year; that’s more than half the entire NHS paybill.

And here’s another truth we all know.

One of the biggest contributors to childhood obesity is sugary drinks.

A can of cola typically has nine teaspoons of sugar in it. Some popular drinks have as many as 13.

That can be more than double a child’s recommended added sugar intake.

Let me give credit where credit is due.

Many in the soft drinks industry recognise there’s a problem and have started to reformulate their products.

Robinsons recently removed added sugar from many of their cordials and squashes.

Sainsbury’s, Tesco and the Co-op have all committed to reduce sugar across their ranges.

So industry can act, and with the right incentives I’m sure it will.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

I am not prepared to look back at my time here in this Parliament, doing this job and say to my children’s generation:

I’m sorry. We knew there was a problem with sugary drinks. We knew it caused disease. But we ducked the difficult decisions and we did nothing.

So today I can announce that we will introduce a new sugar levy on the soft drinks industry.

Let me explain how it will work.

It will be levied on the companies.

It will be introduced in two years’ time to give companies plenty of space to change their product mix.

It will be assessed on the volume of the sugar-sweetened drinks they produce or import.

There will be two bands – one for total sugar content above 5 grams per 100 millilitres; a second, higher band for the most sugary drinks with more than 8 grams per 100 millilitres.

Pure fruit juices and milk-based drinks will be excluded, and we’ll ensure the smallest producers are kept out of scope.

We will of course consult on implementation.

We’re introducing the levy on the industry which means they can reduce the sugar content of their products – as many already do.

It means they can promote low-sugar or no sugar brands – as many already are.

They can take these perfectly reasonable steps to help with children’s health.

Of course, some may choose to pass the price onto consumers and that will be their decision, and this would have an impact on consumption too.

We understand that tax affects behaviour. So let’s tax the things we want to reduce, not the things we want to encourage.

The OBR estimate that this levy will raise £520 million.

And this is tied directly to the second thing we’re going to do today to help children’s health and wellbeing.

We’re going to use the money from this new levy to double the amount of funding we dedicate to sport in every primary school.

And for secondary schools we’re going to fund longer school days for those that want to offer their pupils a wider range of activities, including extra sport.

It will be voluntary for schools. Compulsory for the pupils.

There will be enough resources for a quarter of secondary schools to take part – but that’s just a start.

The devolved administrations will receive equivalent funding through the Barnett formula – and I hope they spend it on the next generation too.

I’m also using the LIBOR funds specifically to help with children’s’ hospital services.

Members across the House have asked for resources for children’s’ care in Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham and Southampton and we provide those funds today.

A determination to improve the health of our children.

A new levy on excessive sugar in soft drinks.

The money used to double sport in our schools.

A Britain fit for the future.

We’re not afraid to put the next generation first.

Mr Deputy Speaker, let me now turn to indirect taxes.

Last autumn I said that I would use all the VAT we collect from sanitary products to support women’s charities.

I want to thank many Members here on all sides, for the impressive proposals they have put forward.

Today we allocate £12 million from the Tampon Tax to these charities across the UK, from Breast Cancer Care to the White Ribbon Campaign.

And we will make substantial donations to the Rosa Fund and to Comic Relief so we reach many more grassroots causes.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I now turn excise duties.

In 2010 plans would have seen fuel duty rise above inflation every year – and cost motorists 18 pence extra a litre.

We wholeheartedly rejected those plans – and instead we took action to help working people.

We froze fuel duty throughout the last Parliament – a tax cut worth nearly £7 billion a year.

In the last twelve months, petrol prices have plummeted. That is why we pencilled in an inflation rise.

But I know that fuel costs still make up a significant part of household budgets and weigh heavily on small firms.

Families paid the cost when oil prices rocketed; they shouldn’t be penalised when oil prices fall.

So I can announce that fuel duty will be frozen for the sixth year in a row.

That’s a saving of £75 a year to the average driver; £270 a year to a small business with a van. It’s the tax boost that keeps Britain on the move.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

Tobacco duty will continue to rise as set out in previous Budgets, by 2% above inflation from 6pm tonight – while hand rolling tobacco will rise by an additional 3%.

And to continue our drive to improve public health we will reform our tobacco regime to introduce an effective floor on the price of cigarettes and consult on increased sanctions for fraud.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

I’ve always been clear that I want to support responsible drinkers and our nation’s pubs.

5 years ago we inherited tax plans that would have ruined that industry.

Instead, the action we took in the last Parliament on beer duty saved hundreds of pubs and thousands of jobs.

Today I back our pubs again. I am freezing beer duty and cider duty too.

Scotch Whisky accounts for a fifth of all of the UK’s food and drink exports.

So we back Scotland and back that vital industry too, with a freeze on whisky and other spirits duty this year.

All other alcohol duties will rise by inflation as planned.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

There are some final measures we need to take to boost enterprise, back the next generation, and help working people keep more of the money they earn.

All these have been the themes of this Budget.

Let me start with Enterprise.

We know that when it comes to growing the economy, alongside good infrastructure and great education we need to light the fires of enterprise.

And our tax system can do more.

To help the self-employed I’m going to fulfil the manifesto commitment we made, and from 2018 abolish Class 2 National Insurance Contributions altogether.

That’s a simpler tax system and a tax cut of over £130 for each of Britain’s 3 million strong army of the self-employed.

Next, we want people to invest in our businesses, and help them create jobs.

The best way to encourage that is to let them keep more of the rewards when that investment is successful.

Our Capital Gains Tax is now one of the highest in the developed world, when we want our taxes to be among the lowest.

The headline rate of Capital Gains Tax currently stands at 28%

Today I am cutting it to 20%.

And I am cutting the Capital Gains Tax paid by basic rate taxpayers from 18% to just 10%.

The rates will come into effect in three weeks’ time. The old rates will be kept in place for gains on residential property and carried interest.

I am also introducing a brand new 10% rate on long term external investment in unlisted companies, up to a separate maximum of £10 million of lifetime gains.

In this Budget we’re putting rocket boosters on the backs of enterprise and productive investment.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

In this Budget I also want to help the next generation build up assets and save.

The fundamental problem is that far too many young people in their 20s and 30s have no pension and few savings.

Ask them and they will tell you why.

It’s because they find pensions too complicated and inflexible, and most young people face an agonising choice of either saving to buy a home or saving for their retirement.

We can help by providing people with more information about the multiple pensions many have; and by providing more tax relief on financial advice and the Economic Secretary and I do both today.

We can also help those on the lowest incomes save, and the Prime Minister announced our Help to Save plan on Monday.

Over the past year we’ve consulted widely on whether we should make compulsory changes to the pension tax system.

But it was clear there is no consensus.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

My pension reforms have always been about giving people more freedom and more choice.

So faced with the truth that young people aren’t saving enough, I am today providing a different answer to the same problem.

We know people like ISAs – because they are simple.

You save out of taxed income; everything you earn on your savings is tax-free; then it’s tax-free when you withdraw it too.

From April next year I am going to increase the ISA limit from just over £15,000 to £20,000 a year for everyone.

And for those under 40, many of whom haven’t had such a good deal from the pension system, I am introducing a completely new flexible way for the next generation to save.

It’s called the Lifetime ISA.

Young people can put money in, get a government bonus, and use it either to buy their first home or save for their retirement.

Here’s how it will work.

From April 2017, anyone under the age of 40 will be able to open a Lifetime ISA and save up to £4,000 each year.

And for every £4 you save, the government will give you £1.

So put in £4,000 and the government will give you £1,000. Every year. Until you’re 50.

You don’t have to choose between saving for your first home, or saving for your retirement.

With the new Lifetime ISA the government is giving you money to do both.

For the basic rate taxpayer, that is the equivalent of tax-free savings into a pension, and unlike a pension you won’t pay tax when you come to take your money out in retirement.

For the self-employed, it’s the kind of support they simply cannot get from the pensions system today.

Unlike a pension you can access your money anytime without the bonus and with a small charge.

And we’re going to consult with the industry on whether, like the American 401K, you can return money to the account to reclaim the bonus – so it is both generous and completely flexible.

Those who have already taken out our enormously popular Help to Buy ISAs will be able to roll it into the new Lifetime ISA – and keep the government match.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

A £20,000 ISA limit for everyone.

A new Lifetime ISA.

A Budget that puts the next generation first.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

I turn now to my final measures.

The government was elected to back working people.

And the best way to help working people is to let them keep more of the money they earn.

When I became Chancellor, the tax-free personal allowance was less than £6,500.

In two weeks’ time it will rise to £11,000.

We committed that it would reach £12,500 by the end of this Parliament.

And today we take a major step towards that goal.

From April next year, I am raising the tax-free personal allowance to £11,500.

That’s a tax cut for 31 million people.

It means a typical basic rate taxpayer will be paying over £1,000 less income tax than five years ago.

And it means another 1.3 million of the lowest paid taken out of tax altogether.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

We made another commitment in our manifesto and that was to increase the threshold at which people pay the higher rate of tax.

That threshold stands at £42,385.

I can tell the House that from April next year I’m going to increase the Higher Rate threshold to £45,000.

That’s a tax cut of over £400 a year.

It is going to lift over half a million people who should never have been paying the higher rate out of that higher tax band altogether.

And it’s the biggest above inflation cash increase since Nigel Lawson introduced the 40p rate almost thirty years ago.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

A personal tax free allowance of £11,500.

No one paying the 40p rate under £45,000.

And we have delivered a budget for working people.

Mr Deputy Speaker,

Five years ago we set out on a long term plan.

Because we wanted to make sure that Britain never again was powerless in the face of global storms.

We said then that we would do the hard work to take control of our destiny and put our own house in order.

5 years later our economy is strong, but the storm clouds are gathering again.

Our response to this new challenge is clear.

We act now so we don’t pay later.

This is our Budget.

One that reaches a surplus so the next generation doesn’t have to pay our debts.

One that reforms our tax system so that the next generation inherits a strong economy.

One that takes the imaginative steps so that the next generation is better educated.

One that takes bold decisions so that our children grow up fit and healthy.

This is a Budget that gets investors investing, savers saving, businesses doing business; so that we build for working people a low tax, enterprise Britain; secure at home, strong in the world.

I commend to the House a Budget that puts the next generation first.

George Osborne – 2013 Speech at Currency Paper Launch


Below is the text of the speech made by George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on 23 April 2013.

In seventeen months Scotland will decide whether or not to end over three hundred years of partnership with the other nations within the United Kingdom.

As decisions go, they don’t come much bigger.

This isn’t a decision for the UK Government or me to take.

It’s a choice for people living in Scotland.

The UK Government is today publishing an in depth economic paper; the first of a series about the economic implications of Scottish independence.

With this, and future Scotland analysis publications, the UK Government wants to inform the debate and help people to make up their own mind.

The paper deals with one of the most important decisions that would face a separate Scotland – how to arrange its currency and wider monetary and fiscal affairs.

This analysis has been prepared by Treasury civil servants, which is why I’m speaking to you today.

Their analysis shows that the current arrangements of a full, monetary, fiscal and political union bring economic benefits to all parts of the UK.

Breaking up that union would represent a fundamental change, and confront an independent Scottish state with difficult choices about what to put in its place.

The paper provides evidence of how the United Kingdom benefits from being a deeply integrated single domestic market.

We trade together – Scotland exports to the rest of the UK nearly a third of everything it produces.

We do business together – nearly one in five private sector jobs in Scotland is for business based elsewhere in the UK.

We work together – each year over forty thousand people move across the border in each direction to live and work.

It’s not surprising then that Scotland’s economy is so closely aligned with the rest of the UK and its interests so inextricably linked.

So the analysis makes clear the value of being able to fully co-ordinate our monetary, fiscal, and financial stability policies.

Such co-ordination allows us to:

our central bank, the Bank of England, to set interest rates to suit conditions throughout the UK and to have the ability to step in rapidly to stabilize our financial system when the need arises;
take advantage of the UK’s ability to borrow in its own currency and credibility and track record with the international financial markets – built up over many, many years – to access cheaper financing;
leverage the UK’s large and diverse tax base of thirty million individual taxpayers and nearly two million registered businesses to ensure when times are tough there is the fiscal firepower to ensure resources go to wherever in the UK they are needed most.
As the Scottish Government’s own Fiscal Commission puts it:

Retaining a common currency would promote the single market and help facilitate trade and investment to and from the rest of the UK and elsewhere.

And the Commission is right on this point.

Who would conclude the answer to today’s economic and financial challenges is to:

– erect barriers between you and your most important trading partner;

– accept a premium on the cost of borrowing when money is tight;

– and conduct your business in two different currencies, across fluctuating exchange rates, when currently you don’t have to – with all the additional costs involved?

The Treasury paper identifies four potential alternative models from which a separate Scottish state could pick its currency and monetary arrangements.

All are a profound change from the pound we have today.

An independent Scotland could:

– adopt the pound unilaterally, just as Panama uses the US dollar;

– seek a formal agreement, like the Eurozone have with each other, to form a sterling currency zone with England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the continuing UK;

– agree to adopt the euro itself;

– or introduce a new Scottish currency.

And the analysis is clear: all of these alternative currency arrangements are less suitable economically than what we have now – for both Scotland and for the rest of the UK.

Scottish Government Ministers have made it clear they want an independent Scotland to keep the pound, the Bank of England and to enter a formal currency union with the rest of the UK.

The Treasury paper cautions that a formal currency union between two completely separate countries is not the same thing as keeping the pound we have now.

First, financial markets would need to be convinced such a union was built to last.

A durable currency union between two separate countries requires very strong and credible political commitment. The very opposite of what the SNP is proposing with its determination to break the political ties with the rest of the UK.

But the lesson from the Euro is stark – they want to weaken the political ties in a dramatic way.

Monetary union without close fiscal and political integration is extremely hard to sustain.

That’s why the Euro area is having to reform its institutions, as the original measures to maintain budgetary discipline of its member states proved inadequate.

Countries with the euro now have to:

– submit their budget plans to Brussels alongside their own national parliaments;

– commit by the Fiscal Compact to keep budgets balanced or in surplus;

– and face the prospect of sanctions if they run excessive deficits and fail to take effective action to cope with them.

And that’s not all.

You only have to look at the problems facing smaller members of the euro area such as Portugal, Ireland and Greece. The most recent reminder of how difficult things can become are the events in Cyprus.

Cypriot authorities have had to put in place temporary capital controls.

This wouldn’t happen within the US or within the UK.

And the Treasury paper cites the example of the last two nations to try to form a currency union following separation – Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Their union fell apart after only thirty-three days as capital flowed from one to the other as investors and savers sought what they saw as a safer haven for their funds.

So the challenges for establishing a formal currency union between Scotland and the remaining UK are not hard to imagine.

The political commitment to maintaining the currency union would be tested daily in the financial markets; particularly if there was any hint of that currency union being a temporary arrangement – a real possibility if an independent Scotland was committed as a condition of EU membership to join the Euro at some point.

Indeed the Scottish Government’s own Fiscal Commission talks only of retaining sterling “immediately post-independence” and of how its proposed framework was “designed to be flexible” should Scotland’s economic conditions change post-independence.

Instead of talking up the strength and permanence of currency union, they are talking up the flexibility and short-lived nature of it.

Second, the Treasury analysis suggests that an independent Scottish state would have to accept significant policy constraints, even if the financial markets could be convinced of both countries’ commitment to maintain for the long-term a formal currency union.

Monetary policy set by the Bank of England in such a union would over time become less and less suitable for both countries, as tax and spending policies diverge.

Tax and spending would therefore need to take more of the strain to stabilize the Scottish economy in the face of economic shocks.

And the paper suggests that an independent Scotland would be more exposed than the UK to volatile revenues from oil and gas, and a large banking sector relative to the size of the Scottish economy.

Today in the UK we pool our tax resources – a common insurance policy where all pay their share of the premium.

We are able to transfer funds to help areas of the country adjust to economic shocks.

A co-ordinated UK response is automatic.

Such arrangements couldn’t simply be translated into a currency union of two separate countries.

An independent Scotland would have to agree its tax and spending plans with what would become a foreign government.

So the big contradiction is that those proposing separation are campaigning to “bring powers home” with one hand, while planning to give them away with the other.

Third, there is no guarantee that the terms of a formal currency union could be agreed between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK.

There are no modern examples of a successful formal currency union between two countries of such unequal size.

There are currently seventeen members of the euro area.

The largest member – Germany – represents just less than thirty per cent of the GDP of the euro area as a whole, a sterling currency union would be much more imbalanced.

The continuing UK would comprise around ninety per cent of the total GDP in a sterling currency union with an independent Scotland.

Some have quoted the example of the Belgium-Luxembourg economic union, two countries with a similar difference in size.

But both countries kept separate currencies.

Luxembourg effectively ceded all control of monetary policy to the Belgian central bank.

And the monetary association nearly failed in the early 1980s when Luxembourg made plans to make the Luxembourg franc independent.

So let’s be clear: abandoning current arrangements would represent a very deep dive indeed into uncharted waters.

Would a newly independent Scottish state be prepared to accept significant limits to its economic sovereignty?

To submitting its budgetary plans to Westminster before Holyrood.

To constrain the degree of tax competition between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

To accept some continuing oversight by UK authorities of its public finances.

And what is the economic case for the remaining UK?

The Treasury analysis suggests that the answers are not clear.

Of course there could be some benefits for the rest of the UK in keeping the same currency as an independent Scotland using the pound, but it would also create significant economic risks.

However, the imperative to agree to a formal currency union would not be as strong for the rest of the UK as for Scotland.

While around 30 per cent of total Scottish output is exported to the rest of the UK, the rest of the UK relies on exports to Scotland for less than 5 per cent of its total output.

The benefits of this trade would need to be judged against the imbalance within the sterling currency union of exposure to economic and financial risk.

The rest of the UK – as the larger economy – would be much more exposed to the risk of an independent Scotland running into fiscal and financial difficulties.

As Professor John Kay – formerly a member of the Scottish Government’s Council of Economic Advisers – has put it:

It is easy to see why the rest of the UK, representing 91.5% of a monetary union, might seek oversight of the economic affairs of Scotland, representing 8.5% of the same union. It is more difficult to see why the rest of the UK representing 91.5% of a monetary union should concede oversight of its policies to Scotland, representing 8.5% of the union.

The fundamental political question this analysis provokes is this.

Why would fifty-eight million citizens give away some of their sovereignty over monetary and potentially other economic policies to five million people in another state?

Before the rest of the UK could ever agree to enter a formal currency union, any future UK Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time of independence would have to provide the British people with a clear and compelling answer to this question of sovereignty.

The SNP asserts that it would be in everyone’s interests for an independent Scotland to keep the pound as part of a Eurozone-style sterling zone.

But the Treasury analysis we are publishing today shows that this is not the case.

Let’s stop speculating – and look at the evidence: would the rest of the UK family agree to take that risk?

Could a situation where an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK share the pound and the Bank of England be made to work?

Frankly, it’s unlikely, because there is real doubt around the answers to these questions.

In other words, the only way to be sure of keeping the pound as Scotland’s currency is to stay in the UK.

The Treasury paper also discusses other alternatives open to an independent Scottish state if it proves impossible to agree a formal currency union with the rest of the UK.

It could continue to use the pound without the rest of the UK’s agreement.

However, to do so would leave an independent Scotland with no control over its own monetary policy.

The Bank of England would continue to set interest rates – but without any regard for conditions in Scotland.

And with no ability to print money, a Scottish monetary authority could only play a very limited role as a ‘lender of last resort’ to Scottish commercial banks.

In this scenario an independent Scotland would be faced with severe monetary and fiscal constraints.

Some small countries have adopted this approach.

Montenegro uses the euro.

Panama the US dollar.

But, both the Scottish Government’s Fiscal Commission and the Treasury’s analysis conclude that this option would not be appropriate for a country of Scotland’s economic size and complexity.

Another option is that Scotland could apply to join the euro area.

Indeed, it may well have to as part of conditions for EU membership.

But this would mean losing the pound, imposing new transaction costs on Scottish businesses’ trade with their largest market – the rest of the UK.

And the Scottish economy differs significantly from the euro area.

It is certainly less well integrated with the EU than with the UK as a whole.

The policies of the European Central Bank would therefore be less well suited to conditions in Scotland than those currently pursued by the Bank of England.

And an independent Scotland would face the same constraints designed to ensure the eurozone’s stability as its other smaller members.

Finally it could introduce a new independent Scottish currency.

An attractive option for many as it’s the only one where an independent Scotland would not have to give up control over some or all of the economic levers at its disposal.

However, the Treasury analysis shows that this freedom would come at a cost.

The transition costs of establishing a new central bank and to replace the pound coins and notes currently in circulation;

The risk that capital could flow out of Scotland if Scottish residents preferred to hold their assets in an established currency, with the need as a result for capital controls in the transition period;

The higher transaction costs of doing business with all of Scotland’s trading partners – particularly the UK;

And the risks of a volatile exchange rate deterring long-term transactions and investment.

So the analysis concludes that in comparison to current arrangements the benefits of an independent monetary policy are unlikely to outweigh these costs.

The conclusion is clear.

The pound we share works well.

The saying goes,

If it ain’t broke why fix it?

But I say –

if it ain’t broke don’t break it.

The alternatives to the way Scotland now uses the pound are second best.

Is second best really good enough for Scotland?

I want the best for Scotland and for all our United Kingdom.

We’re better together.