The first Conservative budget in almost 2 decades has played well with the Tory press, brought a smirk to the faces of those selfish tories who voted last May to see the Welfare state pushed back and brought architect of Tory Hell, Ian Duncan-Smith, to a state of near ecstasy in the House of Commons. But it hasn’t played well across the country where there are more losers than winners. Here in Somerset reaction was strong.
Sedgemoor Labour leader Cllr Mick Lerry said: “This isn’t the Budget that working people need. It leaves working people worse off and fails the test of building a more productive economy to bring the deficit down. Cuts to tax credits will hit working people on middle and lower incomes. Over three million working families will worse off as a result of the changes.This Budget fails the productivity test. The Tory record on productivity is one of failure and today’s Budget offers just more of the same. After all the Chancellor’s boasts, the OBR is forecasting productivity is down next year, the year after, the year after that and the year after that.”
“The Chancellor today ducked the big decisions on infrastructure. A modern economy needs modern infrastructure but this Government have pulled the plug on electrification of the railways, pulled the rug from investment in renewable energy and have flunked the decision on airports.”
Shameful cutting of Tax Credits
“Had Labour been delivering today’s Budget we would have focused on delivering for working people while cutting spending outside protected departments and taking steps to tackle the root causes of welfare spending. That means:
“Putting working people first: With tax cuts focused on low and middle incomes, not cutting the tax credits working people rely on. Supporting firms to become more productive: Delivery of infrastructure, not re-announcements of future projects, and high quality training and apprenticeships, not a re-badging of existing qualifications.Increasing productivity and delivering higher wages to bring down the cost of welfare: Tackling the root causes of welfare spending – low pay and high housing costs – to bring down government spending in a sustainable way, not making working people worse off overall before they are benefiting from higher pay” says Mick.
Cllr Mick Lerry added “This Budget is less about economic strategy, more about political tactics designed by the Chancellor to help him move in next door to number 10.You can’t be the party of working people if you deliver a Budget which leaves those on middle and low incomes worse off, which fails to boost productivity and ducks the big issues on infrastructure”.
Ruthless and unfair attack on young people
Bridgwater Town Councillor Diogo Rodrigues (25) says “This budget has been a ruthless and unfair attack on the young people in this country. Young people will be forced to work for less than their colleagues from next April when the National Living Wage gets introduced. There is no justification for excluding under 25s from the National Living Wage. The changes in University financial assistance will hit the poorest young people the hardest. Removing the maintenance grant and replacing it with a loan will only deter poorer young people from attending university and add more debt to the backs of the young people which of whom will drive this country’s future forward.”
“First they increased tuition fees and now they remove grants that affect poorer students the most – this is an unfair and unjust attack on young people and will only further deter them from getting into higher education due to the huge increase in cost! To add to this, anyone aged between 18 and 21 will no longer be able to claim housing benefit aically under new rules. This is another unfair and unjust policy attacking young people in the country. This comes as young people are locked out of purchasing their own home as a result of soaring house prices. We need policies that reward the hard work of young people, polices that encourage young people to prosper and achieve their dreams, policies that will bring out the best in young people and drive this country forward – not policies that will do the complete opposite which is what this government is enforcing upon us. “
Labour has campaigned constantly for low pay to be tackled
Minehead Labour Town Councillor Andy Lewis said “There are many bad things in the budget, but we should welcome the news that the government is going to force employers to raise the wages of the lowest paid. It is quite right that employers like Butlin’s in Minehead should be made to pay their staff properly. We may feel that Osborne has hi-jacked our policy on this. We should point out that the Labour Party and the wider labour movement have campaigned consistently for low pay to be tackled. Osborne has not gone as far as we would like – but we can take the credit for pushing him in the right direction.”
Fightback by linking up campaigns against Austerity
Bridgwater Town Council Leader Cllr Brian Smedley said “This is what voting Conservative means. It’s we’re all in it together – but the rich up to their ankles and the poor up to their necks. It’s maintaining the profits of the rich at the expense of the poor and it’s removing years of hard fought for socialist measures of redistribution of wealth to make a more equal society in order to turn people against each other as they struggle to survive. People shouldn’t meekly accept this and should fight back by linking up the campaigns against austerity wherever they are.”
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