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Economic Inequality

Volume 717: debated on Tuesday 28 June 2022

The Government understand that millions of households across the UK are struggling to make their income stretch to cover the rising cost of living. As part of the £15 billion support package being provided by the Government, almost all the 8 million most vulnerable households across the UK will receive support of at least £1,200 this year, including a new, one-off £650 cost of living payment.

The Economic Secretary will know that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs payroll data shows that the pay of the top 1% rose three-and-a-half times faster than the pay of those in the bottom 10%, whose meagre pay increases have already been wiped out by inflation and price rises. When we look at wealth, during one year of the pandemic each UK billionaire saw their wealth grow by £630 million on average. While the rich get richer, the working-class communities I represent get poorer. When will the Treasury look at raising taxes on the highest incomes and taxing the wealth of billionaires in order to invest in communities and UK infrastructure?

Most mainstream understanding of how the economy works recognises that we need wealth creators, but we also need a Government who recognise the strains that the country is facing. That is why three quarters of the support will go to vulnerable households, including specific additional top-ups such as the £12 million going to Liverpool for the household support fund. This Government will stand by wealth creators and innovators, however, because we need growth in the economy and a more productive economy.

One way to tackle regional economic inequality is to ensure that our regional businesses are able to attract investment. Will my hon. Friend outline what more we can do to ensure that we unlock more private investment into Britain’s firms of the future?

The Government are constantly looking at new ideas. The regional angels programme and our reforms to financial services to make FinTech and banks more accessible to regional businesses are at the core of this Government’s agenda, and I will bring further measures to the House in the next few weeks.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Dan Carden) highlights, the handouts from the Government to support families are already being wiped out by the rise in inflation and cost of living. One in two children in my constituency live in poverty. From what the Minister just said, he believes in trickle-down from those billionaires to help those people, but they are on low wages and, for many of those who are working, universal credit has been cut. That is not doing enough to support them. What further steps will the Treasury take?

What I believe in is a Government who make targeted support available to the most vulnerable. The Chancellor and this Government have on a number of occasions used fiscal events and bespoke interventions to support those vulnerable people. We have always been clear that we will not be able to ameliorate the full extent of the challenges facing the country, but we will continue to strive for greater growth and productivity that will bring us back to where we need to be.