This Budget makes the Chancellor’s out-of-touch priorities clear.
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.
After taking £6 billion out of the pockets of some of the poorest people in this country, he is expecting them to cheer at being given £2 billion to compensate.
In the long story of this Parliament, never has a Chancellor asked the British people to pay so much for so little, loading the burden on working people with tax rises and wasting billions of pounds of taxpayer money.
This is not a Budget that will deliver for Putney, Roehampton and Southfields either.
Of the 4.4 million households on universal credit in the UK, about three-quarters will be worse off as a result of decisions to take away the £20-a week-uplift, despite the new universal credit measures the Chancellor included in the budget. In Putney, there are over 7,000 households on Universal Credit – in February 2020 there were just 2,500. The majority of these households are going to lose out.
And according to the Resolution Foundation, households will pay £3,000 more tax a year and take a 2% hit on their income as a result of the measures introduced since Boris Johnson came to power, including Wednesday’s Budget.
There was a promise of 300 youth services without mentioning the 950 youth services that have been cut. These are essential for our young people, our communities and for cutting crime rates.
The Chancellor’s cut to domestic flight tax is also dreadful news for Putney. Heathrow Terminal has two terminals that serve domestic flights, so with Putney under Heathrow’s flight path the cut to domestic flights is undeniably going to increase the carbon dump on our green spaces and the noise pollution for residents.
It fails local schools too. There was no promise for the long-term funding our local state maintained nursery schools need. I cannot understand why the government think it acceptable to leave schools worse off in real-terms compared to 2010. And over 1,000 children’s centres have closed during the last decade, including the last remaining sure start centre in Putney, so how does the government expect 75 hubs to replace this network of support for families?
The Chancellor announced “a new package of £1.8bn over the SP21 period”, bringing total investment specifically to support education recovery to £4.9 billion since academic year 2020/21. However, this is still £10bn short of what Kevan Collins, the government’s education recovery Tsar, argued was needed to ensure pupils got the help they needed to catch up on learning lost because of the pandemic.
What about Hammersmith Bridge? The Government has excluded Transport for London from its £7bn regional transport fund despite TfL being only six weeks away from the end of its latest emergency funding settlement. For the sake of a London and national recovery from the pandemic they must come forward with a long-term funding deal.
For us locally, this means higher transport costs, no improvement to services and not a penny for the restoration of Hammersmith Bridge.
It was also a budget that fails London. Instead of levelling up the country the Government are levelling down London. The Chancellor failed to deliver the support and investment London needs to recover from the pandemic in a way that will support the national recovery.
There was no mention of climate in the budget either.
This is another Budget from the Chancellor which failed on the climate crisis. Working people and our planet will pay the price of Tory climate delay.
Delivering on the green transition presents enormous opportunities – good jobs, lower bills and cleaner air. But only if we act now and at scale. According to the OBR, failure to act will mean public sector debt explodes later, to nearly 300% of GDP.
The prudent and responsible economic course is to invest in the transition to a zero-carbon economy, support households, and give British businesses a head-start in the industries of the future.
But with no mention of climate in his conference speech and the most passing of references today, we are burdened with a Chancellor unwilling to meet the challenges we face: squandering the opportunities of the green transition to support jobs and invest in British industries and stacking up costs for working people and future generations.
There is another way. Labour would put working people first.
We’d use the power of government and the skill of business to ensure the next generation of quality jobs are created right here, in Britain.
We’d deliver a Climate Investment Pledge – £28bn every year for the rest of the decade. That’s investment in bringing down your energy bills, affordable public transport systems, cleaner air, and backing British industries with a real plan for jobs and wages. That’s what real action on climate change looks like.
We’d tax fairly, we’d spend wisely and after a decade of anaemic growth we’d get Britain’s economy firing on all cylinders.