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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

PM aide regrets recession comments

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Lord Young of Graffham said the Bank of England's decision to cut base rates to a record low had left many home-owners better off

A senior adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron has offered his “profound” apologies after claiming that the majority of British people have “never had it so good” since the recession.

Lord Young of Graffham told the Daily Telegraph that low interest rates meant home-owners were better off thanks to the “so-called recession” and said complaints about Government spending cuts were coming from “people who think they have a right for the state to support them”.

A spokesman for Mr Cameron said the Prime Minister was “very unimpressed” by the peer, whom he appointed as his enterprise adviser earlier this month.

The Prime Minister “believes at this difficult time politicians need to be careful with their choice of words – these words are as offensive as they are inaccurate”, said the spokesman.

Lord Young later wrote to Mr Cameron acknowledging that his comments were “inaccurate and insensitive” and offering his apologies.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Lord Young said the Bank of England’s decision to cut base rates to a record low of 0.5% since March 2009 had left many home-owners up to £600 a month better off. And he said swingeing Government cuts, totalling more than £80 billion over four years, would only take state spending back to the levels of 2007, when people were not “short of money”.

He dismissed forecast public sector job losses of 100,000 a year as “within the margin of error” in the context of the 30 million-strong job market. People will look back and “wonder what all the fuss was about”, predicted Lord Young – Trade and Industry Secretary in Margaret Thatcher’s administration.

His comments stand in stark contrast to the public comments of senior Government ministers, who have acknowledged the measures being taken to reduce the UK’s record budget deficit will hit individual voters. In his speech to the Conservative conference last month, Mr Cameron said “reducing spending will be difficult”, while Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said cuts will be “difficult and painful”.

In a statement issued after details of his comments emerged, Lord Young said: “I am not a member of the Government and played no part in the spending review. I deeply regret the comments I made and I entirely understand the offence they will cause. They were both inaccurate and insensitive.

“Low mortgage interest rates may have eased the burden for some families in this country. But millions of families face a very difficult and anxious future as we come to grips with the deficit. I should have chosen my words much more carefully. I have … written to the Prime Minister to apologise profoundly for what I said.”

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