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2011 Autumn Statement: the political reaction

Opposition politicians and public bodies have given mixed reactions to Chancellor George Osborne’s 2011 Autumn Statement.

The Government’s economic plans have ‘failed colossally’, according to Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, who stated that the Chancellor’s austerity agenda had ‘backfired’, with growth flatlining, unemployment rising and borrowing £158 billion higher than previously expected.

‘As a result, his economic and fiscal strategy is in tatters’, said Mr Balls.

The teachers’ union NASUWT have condemned the Chancellor’s plans for education as ‘elitist’, arguing that the Government has chosen to benefit ‘the few not the many’.

Meanwhile, the charity Age UK has warned that the proposals on pensions could hit the disadvantaged the hardest. Bringing forward the increase in the state pension age to 67 will be ‘a bitter blow’ for those approaching retirement, particularly those who have ill health, care for relatives, or are out of work, the organisation said.

Age UK is calling on the Government to introduce an independent Pensions Advisory Commission, to ensure that decisions on pensions take into account all of the necessary factors, including inequalities in life expectancy, employment opportunities, trends in private provision and prospects for older workers.

However, the organisation welcomed the decision to increase both the basic state pension and pension credit by 5.2%, in line with CPI inflation.