The Chancellor’s Budget statement today included several policies which are long-overdue and offer welcome relief to people who’ve been struggling during the past year; it’s clear that our pressure has paid off. However its general theme is of papering over the cracks rather than building new foundations. We hear nothing on social care or protecting the NHS, nothing of substance on housing or transport, and we are told consumers will go out and spend to drive the recovery. If this is the case, then why is his Government insisting on a pay freeze for millions of key workers?
Whilst I welcome the extension of several crucial measures, the Budget stops short of providing long-term solutions to deep-rooted inequality. The Chancellor has failed to offer a transformative vision for our future. The Conservatives spent £22bn on a Test and Trace system that didn’t work for months and £2bn in outsourced contracts that didn’t deliver. There’s nothing fiscally responsible about this Government whose mismanagement has left us with the worst economic crisis of any major economy.
Please follow the link to a longer post on my website in which I look at the key announcements and what they might mean for you;
Furlough scheme extended until end of September – The Government has finally given in to Labour’s demands and provided time for businesses to recover. Yet the support comes without vital protections against fire and rehire tactics and does nothing to encourage tax transparency.
Universal Credit uplift extended by 6 months- Dragged kicking and screaming to provide security for 6 million families affected. An increase in working tax credits in form of £500 payment will help some on legacy benefits, but shamefully ignores others once again.
- Business Rates relief extended for 3 months through to end of June, with rates discounted up to 2/3rds with lower cap for those able to stay open.
- 5 % VAT rate for hospitality firms to be maintained at reduced rate until September with additional interim rate of 12.5% for 6 months until April next year.
- Funding set aside for 2030 UK World Cup bid.
- Film and TV production insurance scheme extended by 6 months.
SEISS Improved but 2 million still Excluded- The Chancellor has moved to include 600,000 of the self-employed who have been without support since March in the upcoming 4th and 5th rounds of the SEISS grant.
Those who became self-employed in the 2019/20 tax year and filed tax returns by midnight last night have access to the next two SEISS cash grants at 80% of average trading profits. But where was this support last year? Desperate for his moment in the sun, Sunak has been forced into a concession but once again has consciously ignored small business limited company directors by rejecting the proposed DISS fund. Over 2 million people will still be needlessly excluded from the SEISS scheme. There is no excuse.
Green Agenda- The Budget failed to include the stimulus for a green economic recovery. The Government has allowed ‘free-market conservatism’ to dictate the UK’s response to the climate crisis. It has prioritised building a new coal mine over the creation of 400,000 green infrastructure manufacturing jobs and managed to allocate less than 5% of the Green Homes Grant scheme budget to householders. I welcome the Government’s emphasis on sustainable investment, but can’t help but think that some of these measures wouldn’t have been necessary if they hadn’t dismantled the Green Investment Bank.
It feels like the climate was an afterthought for the Chancellor, and this is simply not good enough from a Budget that should have prioritised a green recovery to provide good jobs and finally getting us on track to reach net zero emissions.
Tax Rises- The IMF and the OECD have said that now is not the time for immediate tax rises. Of course, in the long-run Corporation Tax should go up but this is just an example of Sunak putting political ambition before the interest of the country. 4 times in the last 6 months the Chancellor has said that taxes should be raised now purely so they can be cut just before the next election.
Access to Cash – Failed to protect access to cash despite pledging to do so last year. Millions of elderly and vulnerable people in our community still depend on cash, Sunak has washed his hands of the issue and left them behind.
For those who weren’t able to see the announcement, a more detailed summary can be found at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-56266773