Ask The Chancellors: Osborne Sets Out Vision

The Chancellor has said he is “passionate about people having homes” as he set out his vision for the UK’s economy.

George Osborne admitted more homes needed to be built to help young people get on to the housing ladder but said the Government had introduced a number of measures to help first-time buyers.

Speaking at the “Ask The Chancellors” Sky News event at Facebook’s London offices, he said the coalition had to make fixing the economy a priority.

He said:”The reason why the housing market stopped building things is because the economy fell off a cliff.”

Mr Osborne said there was “no silver bullet” to solve the problem but that there were a number of measures the Government had taken including Help To Buy schemes and the ISA aimed at helping young people save to a deposit announced at last week’s Budget.

He said: “I’m absolutely passionate about people having homes to buy and to rent for themselves.”

Asked when savers would see interest rates return to normal levels he said: “I don’t think increasing interest rates just to help savers would help the rest of the economy.”

Mr Osborne made clear it was necessary to renegotiate the deal with the EU and said that was what the Conservatives would work to do.

But he denied the that David Cameron’s pledge to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU was scaring investment away. He said: “We are getting more investment than any other EU country.”

The Chancellor was being quizzed on his economic plans by an audience of key opinion formers, including entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Mr Osborne’s Labour counterpart Ed Balls will face questions from the same audience later this afternoon.

The event follows on from similar question and answer sessions for party leaders including David Cameron and Ed Miliband.

The clash comes at a crucial time, with the latest Sky News projection of seat numbers in the House of Commons suggesting both main parties are well short of the 326 seats they need for an overall majority.

:: Follow the event live here

Ahead of the showdown, political insiders revealed the pair “get on” well, despite their very public political clashes.

Conservative activist and commentator Tim Montgomerie told Sky News that the men have a “good private relationship”, while Damian McBride, who once worked with Mr Balls in the Treasury, said they like each other on a “personal level”.

Mr McBride revealed the two men’s private relationship to the Murnaghan show. He later added that there was common ground because both men have so many interests and hobbies outside of politics.

He said: “It is very rare that you meet politicians with so many outside interests that don’t want to talk about politics all the time. (Ed Balls) would rather be talking about football or the theatre or what he watched on TV last night so he is that kind of personality and I think that is why he gets on with George Osborne.”

:: Ed Balls will face questions from 3.30pm on Sky Channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freesat 202, Freeview 132 as well as all digital platforms, including the Sky News Facebook page and YouTube channel.

:: Get involved with the event via the Stand Up Be Counted and Sky News Facebook pages using the hashtag #AskTheChancellors.

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23 March 2015 | 3:00 pm – Source: orange.co.uk

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