3 Oct 2011

Osborne’s pledge: We will ride out the storm

In his address to the Conservative Party conference, Chancellor George Osborne returns to his theme of unity in the face of international economic adversity – but rules out early tax cuts.

The chancellor said that with resolve, determination, confidence and belief, Britain could emerge from the grave situation in which countries across the world found themselves.

But he said taxes would only be cut when the government could afford them.

He used his speech to attack the previous Labour government, the banks, and “our European neighbours” for creating the economic crisis. And he promised that council tax would be frozen for a second year in a row.

Mr Osborne said Labour had thought that “you could borrow without regard to ability to pay… What a catastrophic mistake!”

Attacking the role of the banks in the economic downturn, Mr Osborne remarked: “The message from this hall is clear: they let down their customers, they let down their shareholders, and they let down this country.”

On the eurozone’s current problems, he said: “For generations to come, people will say: thank God Britain didn’t join the euro.”

Reviving the economy

The chancellor devoted a significant portion of his speech to the measures the government was taking to revive the British economy.

In an effort to create more jobs, the Bank of England would be helped to maintain the present record low interest rates.

Read more from Channel 4 News Economics Editor Faisal Islam on Osborne's plan B(oE)

The Treasury had been set to work on ways to inject money directly into parts of the economy such as small businesses. “It’s known as ‘credit easing’,” Mr Osborne explained.

The chancellor stressed that he wanted Britain’s financial sector to remain “the number one international centre for finance, employing thousands of people across this country”.

‘Country of innovation’

But he also wanted the United Kingdom to reclaim its status as a country of innovation, citing the example of Manchester, the home of the industrial revolution and the city where the first computer was built.

“We’ve got to get Britain making things again,” Mr Osborne urged.

To this end, he announced that mobile phone coverage would be extended to take in another 6 million people, and he promised measures to make it less risky for businesses to hire people.

He announced that the government planned to double to two years the length of time an employer had to hire someone before being subject to a risk of an unfair dismissal claim, and he said litigants would only get their money back in an unfair dismissal claim if the claim was successful.

The chancellor also confirmed that council tax across the UK would be frozen for a second year.

Concluding his speech, which earned a standing ovation, the chancellor returned to his theme of national unity in the face of international economic adversity.

“Together,” he said, “we will ride out the storm and together we will move into the calmer, brighter seas beyond.”