The UK's shadow chancellor has accused the government of economic "short term-ism", saying chancellor Rishi Sunak's "dithering and delays" during the pandemic have cost thousands of jobs.
In a pre-budget address on Monday, Labour's Anneliese Dodds accused Sunak of making "headline grabbing announcements that don't last a fortnight" and said the chancellor's "last minute U-turns... have cost jobs and livelihoods".
"While he dithers and delays, people right across the country lose their jobs," she said.
Labour's Dodds said repeated extensions of support programmes, such as furlough and business support loans, showed Sunak did not have a comprehensive plan.
She said attempts to taper off support last summer led to spiking job losses at a time when unemployment was levelling off elsewhere.
"In the three months from September to November... redundancies hit almost 400,000 — an all-time record," she said, dubbing it the "Sunak effect".
"He hasn't had a plan, he's just been looking for the escape hatch."
She accused the chancellor of being "out of touch" and said his party had a record of "overpromising and under delivering".
"Coronavirus may have closed large parts of our economy, but this government crashed it," she said. "We've ended up with the worst economic crisis of any major economy. The chancellor must take responsibility for that and he must learn from it because he is now making the same mistakes again."
The comments came ahead of Sunak's second budget as chancellor on Wednesday. He is tipped to extend support measures for the economy, announce stimulus spending to help kickstart an economic recovery, and raise some taxes as the UK looks to repair its battered public finances.
Dodds said now was not the right time for tax rises. She accused Sunak of playing politics, citing reports over the weekend that Sunak intends to raise taxes so that he can cut them prior to the next election in 2024.
"Every major international organisation is in agreement — now is not the time for tax rises on struggling businesses or families," Dodds said.
She urged the chancellor to announce support measures including an extension to furlough, wider job support coverage, an extension to business rates relief and the temporary cut to VAT, and extended eligibility for test and trace support payments.
The shadow chancellor said Sunak's "complicated and failing" job support measures needed reforming.
Dodds said the UK was at a "critical moment" and urged Sunak to set out a comprehensive plan for recovery in Wednesday's budget.