The best way to deal with today’s cost-of-living challenges is to have paid employment. In the UK, the number of people employed has risen by 2.1% compared to a year ago—a faster rate of growth than those of our major competitors, including the US, France, Germany, Japan and the euro area as a whole.
Instead of being complacent, the Minister should look at what the Office for Budget Responsibility says, which is that real wages will be lower in 2015 than when this Government came to power. A survey in Dudley shows that nine out of 10 families do not think they will be better off next year than this year, that eight out of 10 spent less at Christmas, and that a similar number have stopped saving. Can the Minister tell me why his Government are cutting taxes for millionaires instead of helping hard-pressed families in places such as Dudley?
I think that the hon. Gentleman joined the House in 2005, and he is probably scarred by his experience during his first term in government, when he saw unemployment in his constituency rise substantially, with youth unemployment going up by more than 100%. He will know that paid work is the best way to raise earnings. As I said earlier, this Government have helped to create 1.25 million jobs over the last three years—more jobs in the private sector than at any other time in our history. He referred to tax cuts; the tax cuts that have come through the personal allowance are for the lowest paid.