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Ed Balls MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, responding to growth figures for the final quarter of 2012, said:
“Today is the moment when David Cameron and George Osborne’s complacency is completely exposed. These deeply disappointing figures expose just how dangerously complacent the Prime Minister was when he said last autumn that the ‘good news will keep coming’.
“Today's news confirms what business leaders, retailers and families have known for many months - that depressed confidence and a chronic shortage of demand mean our economy continues to flatline. This Government’s failing plan has now seen our economy stagnate for over two years and borrowing is now rising as a result.
“David Cameron and George Osborne have been asleep at the wheel. They’ve spent the last six months obsessing about a referendum in five years’ time, not focussing on the problems in our economy today. And their decision in 2010 to raise taxes and cut spending further and faster choked off the recovery, as even Nick Clegg is now beginning to admit.
“It is grossly irresponsible and out of touch of George Osborne to once again try to shrug off bad news and refuse to heed the advice now coming to him from right, left and centre. The Chancellor should listen and act now to give direct help to struggling families and businesses. Instead, the only people he is helping are millionaires who will get a tax cut in April, on the same day that millions of working families have their tax credits cut. This kind of Tory trickle-down economics is just not going to work.
“As the IMF has warned again this week, we need a change of course in the Budget with policies to kick-start our flatlining economy. A plan B now should include a compulsory jobs guarantee for the long-term unemployed and a temporary VAT cut to boost family incomes and our struggling high streets. We should also bring forward infrastructure investment including building thousands of affordable homes and establish a British Investment Bank to boost lending to small businesses.
“The longer David Cameron and George Osborne cling on to their failing plan the more long-term damage will be done. They must finally listen and act to kick-start this economy.”