The spin ahead of the Chancellor’s 2017 Budget announcements kept saying he had no wriggle room. But after seven years why is that? The Conservatives can’t keep blaming the Labour Government; not that they should ever have done given the UK had just come out of a global financial crisis with the economy in better shape than many equivalent economies.
Here in the UK the Conservatives have blown the post-crash opportunities away on their fiscally illiterate Austerity policy that hampered the country’s growth and damaged our public services.
Seven years later: Wages are down, growth is now the lowest of all the G7 countries, productivity is down also embarrassingly poor compared with our competitor countries. At same time government debt is double that of 2010. Thanks to the disaster that Brexit is to our economy, on budget day the Budget of Office Responsibility further downgraded their projections on growth and productivity.
In seven years cuts have had to be made to virtually all our public services and there are deeper cuts still to come - and over 80% of the burden of those cuts have fallen on women’s shoulders.
So what of the little tit bits the Chancellor has dropped into welfare benefits, housing and other public services in this budget? They make big headlines, but are small beer.
There is nothing in the Budget for local councils, the backbone of local public services, yet dependent on Government grants for around half their funding. Childrens’ and adult social care take up the largest part of their budgets, but rubbish, roads, parks, libraries and supporting a host of local organisations that provide their communities with care and welfare
services are all essential Council spend.
Hounslow Council will have to make £45m cuts to these vital services in the next two years, after making £20m cuts over the last two.
This year’s Tory budget scratches at the surface for those struggling as a result of the Government’s failed fiscal policies over the last seven years; there’s nothing for those on low wages, or in insecure and zero hours contracts, or dependent on benefits, nothing for those who need a home with a low rent, nothing for our Councils and other local services,
nor for those who work in them.
Britain needs a budget that is committed to investing in Britain, so we have a high skill, high wage economy, investing in our infrastructure north and south. Labour’s budget would have included building council housing, pausing and fixing Universal Credit, reversing tax-giveaways to the super-rich, cutting down on tax avoidance, scrapping the public sector pay
cap and introducing a real living wage of at least £10 an hour.
But instead the Chancellor brought nothing for the many, and took nothing away from the few