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Labour urges Hammond to boost wages and childcare provision

Published 19/11/2016

Prime Minister Theresa May is reportedly set to announce a funding boost for science and research ahead of the Autumn Statement
Prime Minister Theresa May is reportedly set to announce a funding boost for science and research ahead of the Autumn Statement

Chancellor Philip Hammond has been urged by Labour to boost wages and childcare provision in the Autumn Statement to help families on low and middle incomes.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell told Mr Hammond to help people who will be affected as prices r ise following the Brexit vote and to pay for it by scrapping tax cuts for the wealthy.

The Chancellor is widely expected to announce help for "just about managing" families identified by Theresa May in her first speech as Prime Minister.

And Mr McDonnell said he must now introduce a "real" living wage and reverse welfare cuts to Universal Credit and disability benefits.

It came as the Sunday Telegraph reported that Mr Hammond was set to crack down on staff perks like gym memberships and mobile phone contracts which are offered to workers willing to forgo part of their salaries in return.

The move would help the Treasury raise more money in income tax receipts and national insurance contributions, the newspaper said.

But Mr McDonnell called for wide-ranging action to help working families and an end to the "political choice" of austerity.

Writing in the Observer, the Labour frontbencher said: " We need actual support for those in work on low and middle incomes, who will struggle as prices rise.

"The Chancellor can start by introducing a real living wage.

"He needs to provide honest solutions to the childcare crisis.

"Furthermore, he should reverse the giveaways to the wealthy and reverse those cuts, such as universal credit and employment and support allowance, to low and middle earners.

"Many people are indeed 'just about managing', but that is directly due to Tory economic policies that have favoured a rich few over the rest of us, and left many in our country behind while a few at the top have soared ahead."

Ministers have already ditched former chancellor George Osborne's plans to generate a budget surplus by 2020.

And Mr Hammond is reportedly set to acknowledge a £100 billion black hole in the public finances as a result of slower than expected growth and lower investment following the vote to leave the EU.

The Chancellor has already announced plans to ban pension cold calls which can leave people open to scams which trick them out of their life savings, and is reportedly expected to approve another freeze in fuel duty until April 2018.

Mrs May is reportedly expected to use a Monday speech to industry leaders at the CBI's annual conference to insist she is "unashamedly pro-business" and to announce fresh investment in science and research.

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