MP disputes Osborne's 'rosy' image of economy

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On 19 March 2014, MPs continued their debate on the chancellor's tax and spending plans for the year ahead.

The SDLP's Margaret Ritchie said George Osborne gave the impression in his Budget statement, delivered earlier that day, that "everything was rosy with the economy, but that is not the situation".

She said the reality was different for people across the UK, with families facing rising fuel food bills, rocketing energy costs and stagnant wages.

"This is pushing more and more people into personal debt and we could be faced with the possibility of a personal credit crisis as people over-extend credit cards and use payday loan companies to cover rising bills," the South Down MP warned.

Liberal Democrat Gordon Birtwistle, the government's apprenticeship ambassador to business, focused his remarks on support announced for manufacturing and apprenticeships.

He particularly welcomed the decision to double the annual investment allowance (AIA) to £500,000, for qualifying investment in plant and machinery.

The MP for Rotherham, Labour's Sarah Champion, contended that Mr Osborne should have done more to help unemployed young people. She warned of a "generational skills gap" with "almost one million" young people not in education, employment or training (Neets).

Another Labour MP, Yasmin Qureshi, said there should have been more of a focus on inequality and poverty in Britain.

"I think if the Queen starts getting involved in these issues, it really is a wake-up call for everybody, not just the government but it is also something my party should be addressing.

"At the moment, we are not in government but the party opposite is and they should be looking at this issue of the inequality," she told the House.

Later, the debate on the budget was adjourned until 20 March.

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