‘No unemployed’ gaffe adds to budget pressure on Philip Hammond

Wednesday’s budget seen as make or break for chancellor who is already unpopular with pro-Brexit Tories

Philip Hammond will face a fight for his political life at this week’s budget after he was accused of being hopelessly out of touch for claiming there were “no unemployed people” in the UK.

The chancellor found himself at the centre of a damaging row over the gaffe as he prepares for a difficult budget on Wednesday at a time of worsening economic forecasts and uncertain Brexit negotiations.

Related: The ‘no unemployment’ chancellor needs a budget of compassion | Matthew d’Ancona

Related: Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey says budget must ‘level up’ spending in north

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The chancellor must end austerity now – it is punishing an entire generation | Letters

Alongside the human costs, cuts have hurt our economy, and we’ve now reached a dangerous tipping point, say Joseph Stiglitz and 112 others

Seven years of austerity has destroyed lives. An estimated 30,000 excess deaths can be linked to cuts in NHS spending and the social care crisis in 2015 alone. The number of food parcels given to impoverished Britons has grown from tens of thousands in 2010 to over a million. Children are suffering from real-terms spending cuts in up to 88% of schools. The public sector pay cap has meant that millions of workers are struggling to make ends meet.

Alongside the mounting human costs, austerity has hurt our economy. The UK has experienced its weakest recovery on record and suffers from poor levels of investment, leading to low productivity and falling wages. This government has missed every one of its own debt reduction targets because austerity simply doesn’t work.

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