The Tory Autumn budget has shown just how out of touch Chancellor Rishi Sunak and his mates are with the real world where the solution for a growing cost of living crisis and soaring energy bills is a tax cut for bankers. All this means that working people are paying the price yet again. Responding to the chancellors speech, Labour spokesperson Rachel Reeves said “ A Labour Government would put working people first. We would scrap unfair business rates and respect taxpayers’ money. And we would cut VAT to energy bills for six months immediately so working people don’t feel the strain. A Labour Government would build a higher wage, higher productivity economy, with better conditions for working people. We will always stand against the Conservative’s economic mismanagement, unfair tax system and wasteful spending . After taking £6 billion out of the pockets of some of the poorest people in this country, he is expecting them to cheer today at being given £2 billion to compensate. As he hits working people with the highest sustained tax burden in peacetime, he’s giving a tax cut to bankers who like to take short haul flights while sipping champagne.”
Somerset Labour members have been equally strident in their criticism of Tory mismanagement. Cllr Brian Smedley (Westover, Labour), Leader of Bridgwater Town Council said “We wondered who it would be that ended up paying for the pandemic, and of course it’s us. There’s nothing here to avert the cost of living crisis faced by low-paid workers or provide help for struggling businesses in the retail sector. There’s nothing here for the climate emergency. Like everything they do they tick boxes to look like they’re doing something but they do the opposite. Put another sticking plaster on as the Earth dies screaming. Domestic air flights cause seven times the carbon impact of rail journeys, and car journeys produce more than four times the greenhouse gas per passenger mile as travelling by rail . They are playing us for fools, when they say only Conservatives can be trusted with taxpayers’ money- we do know that this is the same Chancellor who blew £37bn on Test & Trace! We do know that when they say spending on schools will return to 2010 spending levels by 2025 that they’ll not have spent a single penny more on children’s education since the last Labour government. And when they announce money for 300 Youth Centres, we do know they already closed 750 Youth Centres since 2010. And then he announces money for a small number of family hubs, and , hey, we do know that the Tories closed up to 1,000 Sure Start centres. Taking £6billion off working people and giving them £2billion back? We do know that’s a con. People won’t fall for Tory tricks much longer. Every single time you hear the Chancellor claim this budget is about fairness, remember he has just slashed the taxes that bankers have to pay on their profits. That’s probably not that fair…”
Did we expect anything different from the Tories?
Bridgwater Town Council Community spokesman Cllr Graham Granter (Labour,Fairfax) said “This is a very poor budget for working class families. The burden of taxation has once again fallen on the shoulders of the less well off with large companies, and Tech giants not having to pay any increase with the increase in national insurance Contributions and large increases in the cost of living rises fuel, heating, food. There was nothing in today’s budget to help the majority of people in the country Only once again for the rich. But did we expect anything different from a Conservative Government?”
Where is the ‘levelling up’?
Chair of Bridgwater Branch Labour party, Irena Brezowski, said “There are 3 particular points which have caught my eye in this budget announcement. Firstly, on the eve of the climate conference the Chancellor has chosen to ignore the climate emergency and give no nods towards a low-carbon economy instead he has encouraged more people to fly by reducing the passenger duty. This is typical of a government that does not have the health of the whole nation at its heart nor that of the planet – only the wealth of a few. Secondly,…..Education: funding for education will return to 2010 levels – i.e. the last Labour government.”
“This is outrageous as the government has spent the last 11 years systematically driving down pupil spending. £5 bn catch-up spending on education. Ok it sounds like a large chunk of money but let us compare it with current spending on defence. In 19/20 £39 billion was spent on defence – so what Sunak is proposing for education is a tiny drop in the ocean which will sink without trace once it has been shared amongst state schools. Finally, where is the levelling up with a new economic model being proposed ? Where is the support for families that really need it ? Where is the dis-owning of fire and re-hire policies driving wages down not up in real terms. Let’s put all these figures in perspective and not be led by the MSM. It is all a game of smoke and mirrors.”
Another ‘them and us’ budget
Somerset Labour Leader Cllr Leigh Redman (Hamp, Labour) said “ I need to point out according to budget documents, less than a third of families losing £20 a week from this Governments Universal Credit cut will benefit from the changes to the taper announced in this budget. Another Budget from the Chancellor which failed on both the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis. There was No green recovery, no plan to save already stretched families £400 on increased energy bills! For local people this Government will force a Council Tax increase of at least 9% over the next three years, Boris Johnson & Rishi Sunak have already raised it by 13% since 2019 further Hammering already hard-pressed families, you didn’t hear that in Sunak’s smoke & mirrors Budget. Today the Conservatives: Cut taxes on banks – Cut taxes on frequent flyers – Cut taxes on champagne while raising taxes on working people. Another them and us budget.”
Nothing for struggling market towns
Chair of Yeovil Labour Party, Cllr Terry Ledlie, said “ This budget has cut taxes on banks and champagne but has done nothing to help ordinary people. This completely fails to address what people in Yeovil and the surrounding district really need. This government has no plan to raise real wages across the economy during this parliament. The government has simply gone from pay freeze to pay squeeze. With Consumer Price Index inflation currently at 3.1% and energy prices rising even faster, real pay is currently falling, squeezing hard pressed families even further. Getting our local economy back on a sound footing demands real pay growth. It follows to expect a consumer-led recovery to continue while our incomes are being squeezed. Now it’s time to really address the problems facing Yeovil and struggling market towns like Chard. A lot more will be needed to take the pressure off of struggling local people.”