Same speech, different day appears to be the theme for Spring Budget 2017. Brexit is the biggest issue facing the whole country and could bring huge economic damage. Now was the time to ensure the UK is ready for the impact and the Government have missed the boat. The full budget is online here and the BBC analysis is here.
On housing: nothing to tackle the drop in home ownership. Nothing to boost house building to tackle the housing crisis. Nothing to deliver more genuinely affordable homes. Nothing to tackle the growth in homelessness.
On education: nothing to avoid the swingeing cuts about to hit Southwark schools. I asked the Government to help prepare our children for the uncertain future outside the EU. Instead, the Chancellor pressed ahead with those cuts – costing some schools £100,000 a year by 2020. Please help oppose these cuts by adding your name to my petition here
On health and social care: nothing to tackle GP waiting times, ambulance delays and A&E delays in treatment. Social care has been promised some more money – but nowhere need the amount required now to help relieve pressure on the NHS and tackle long term costs.
On broadband: the Chancellor recommitted £16m for 5G mobile technology and £200m for fibre broadband. I will be asking the Government to ensure this reaches all areas of slower speeds/access, including Rotherhithe, rather than just rural areas.
On business rates: the Government announced a slight potential reprieve for Southwark businesses expecting a huge rise in rates – almost 80% in the SE1 postcode. I raised this issue with the Chancellor previously and today he committed £300m to go to councils to mitigate the national rates rise. It is unclear how this will be distributed and what access mechanisms councils will use to support businesses. I will be seeking clarification on these issues as soon as possible.
On employment and welfare: a new ‘tax on the self-employed’ hitting them with a 2% rise in National Insurance contributions. This contravenes a Tory manifesto pledge and comes despite inaction by the Government to tackle rogue employers who abuse workers forced to take on ‘self-employed’ status and denied basic rights on leave, maternity, pension and sick leave. Nothing to tackle the growth of in-work poverty which leaves hundreds of employees in Southwark using the local foodbank. With millions of workers needing tax credits, housing benefits and other state interventions to make ends meet, the Government continues to ignore how taxpayers subsidise an employment market that is no longer working.
Nothing announced to relieve pressure on disabled people with the Government still apparently committed to take support away from over 160,000 PIP claimants after the courts ruled in their favour.