Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn described Theresa May’s first Budget as “utterly complacent about the state of our economy ahead of Brexit”…. “ complacent about the crisis across our public services” and “..entirely out of touch with the reality of life for many millions of people in this country.” Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell added “While doing nothing to solve the crisis in the NHS, in social care or in schools — the Tories have continued with massive tax giveaways for those at the top.” The Labour position nationally is that the Tory budget lacked ambition and fairness for our country. Here in Bridgwater we’re fighting an election campaign -so what did local Labour have to say?
Hammond’s promises on education – what it really means
Jane Grenfell, newly elected Chair of Bridgwater Labour Party and candidate for North Petherton, said “Sounds good doesn’t it, £320 Million for 110 new schools. But as GCSE students will know, that is just £2.28 million to provide a new school. The cost of 10 average homes.Even some Tory MPs have cottoned on. The austerity policies and higher costs imposed by Treasury are undermining schools’ ability to balance the books and deliver the quality education our children deserve and need.The Chancellor cant pull the wool over our eyes any longer – unlike him we can do the maths. “Protecting” the overall education budget is actually cutting it because the Tories have failed to take account of the increased student numbers. Here in Somerset our per pupil funding is over £1000 less than the national average of over £5400″
Jane, who is supporting parents in North Petherton in their fight for school transport, is also campaigning for a new secondary school to serve North Petherton division. “The Queenswood Academy proposal by Haygrove Academy Trust recognises the need for additional capacity, but I believe it is misguided in its choice of location. If this is one of Mrs May’s 110 new schools it will need substantially more than £2 million if we are to secure the state of the art facility our children are entitled to. Extra funding seems to be available for selective schools – this will only increase the attainment gap between rich and poor.”
Chelsea Chadwick, Labour candidate for Huntspill added “Although we welcome the announced £2bn funding for social care, we still need to hold the government to account to ensure it is fairly distributed and that care support is provided for young people and their families too. After hearing George Freeman MP exclaim that benefits should go to ‘really disabled people’ and not those with anxiety, can we really be sure that government isn’t following this line of thought for social care? “
Young People attacked ‘nationally and locally’
Cllr Diogo Rodrigues (Dunwear North) is standing for the Bridgwater East & Bawdrip county seat. Diogo is Bridgwater Towns spokesman on Youth. Diogo said “I have always said that the wrong people have been penalised for the UKs large budget deficit and the ever growing amount of debt that our country has. Since the Tories came into power, at first in coalition with the lib dems, young people in our society were attacked both nationally and locally with things such as, tuition fees increase, maintenance grants abolished, young people left out of the ‘living wage’, youth services cut, youth clubs closed down- all these things have led to a divide in our society where young people feel left out, disengaged and wrongly attacked (not to mention the negative effect it has had in out communities). Now the attack is being passed on to the self employed in our communities, people like our plumbers and electricians who have really helped our economy – these people have no job security, no financial stability, no paid holiday, no paid sick leave – none of the benefits others in guaranteed work would usually get – yet they are being forced to pay out more, and at the same time big businesses and the rich get tax cuts – it’s an absolutely unfair yet typical Tory budget. “
Bridgwater West candidate Tony Heywood said “I watched with incredulity as the Chancellor ignored the crisis in funding of the NHS, Social Care and Education, hardly mentioned Brexit and the economic uncertainty that looms once negotiations start to falter, yet he continued with the handouts to big businesses by announcing further reductions in Corporation Tax. “
An ‘Underwhelming’ budget
Cllr Mick Lerry (Labour,Victoria) is the Leader of Sedgemoor Labour Group and the Town Council’s Business spokesman. Mick said “Along with the self-employed, public services and even businesses in the South West were not impressed with the budget. Phil Smith, managing director of Business West, called it an: “underwhelming Budget ”with a lack of “major changes for businesses”…this “Budget was more about political theatre than changing economic reality and the Chancellor’s performance would have had business audiences shifting in their seats”.
Mick added “There was no mention of the impact of Brexit, on both businesses and the economy. The Conservative manifesto pledge, not to increase National Insurance Contributions, for the self-employed was broken without any consultation. Money for social care was well below the 10 Billion needed, and as advocated by the BMA. The proposed cuts in welfare were not mentioned and the Government will not be able to get rid of the deficit by 2020. If the government wants to see 2 million homes built by 2020, then where were the announcements to help Local Authorities and small developers to build theses houses, as the Chancellor did not mention or support this major challenge”.
Cutting services for the many and cutting taxes for the few
Cllr Leigh Redman (Bridgwater South) is the Leader of Somerset County Council Labour group. Leigh said “Having listened to today’s budget from Tory Phillip Hammond I was heartened to hear Labours response considering Hammond did nothing for the people of Somerset, stating that this was a budget of utter complacency, we still have millions who wake up not knowing if their jobs are safe, and millions wake up struggling to make ends meet. There are people relying on food banks and last night some 4,000 people slept rough. Yet the chancellor boasts about a strong economy, it is not working for the NHS, or for school, where funding is cut, or for the police, who face cuts, leaving neighbourhoods in a perilous state and, for people with disabilities, who are being denied the support the courts say they need. We still have Parents with grown-up children are having to pay their children’s debts.”
Leigh added “The government is cutting services to fund tax cuts for the few.Local residents in Somerset will gain very little, we see a massive drop in government funding for local council services, down from £8.2bn in 2016-17 to £6.5bn in 2017-18 that equals more than 20% in one year, £340m on 140 new grammar schools that head teachers, parents alike don’t want and at the same time gives just £210m across all existing schools c10,000. Do the maths…..”
“Tories think they can get away with anything”
Cllr Brian Smedley (Bridgwater Westover) is Bridgwater Town Council Leader. Brian said “If you believe in capitalism you’ll be pleased to hear today’s news that former Tory Chancellor George Osborne is now earning £14,000 a day with his new job at Blackrock. How he got that job we’ll never know. However, it does seem a little bit unfair when you throw into the mix the fact that his party -awash with similar income earners, are slapping a 2% increase on the self-employed struggling on the frontline of capitalism. And when you consider it was a Tory election pledge NOT to do that, it’s pretty clear how they don’t care in the slightest bit about working people in Britain and think they can get away with anything. People really need to say enough is enough-and we can do that by voting Labour on May 4th”