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If a Conservative government is returned to office after the 2015 election, there will be yet more spending cuts and service cuts afflicting hard-working, low-paid families.
That was the message for most people in George Osborne’s latest attempt at a Budget speech today.
There were plenty of groan-worthy moments as the part-time chancellor trotted out the Coalition’s catchphrases: “We will fix the roof while the sun is shining” (groan. The job is taking so long, one has to question whether the contractor is Con-ning the client). “We are all in this together” (groan). Oh really?
Benefit spending is to be capped at £119 billion per year, albeit rising with inflation; public sector pay “restraint” will continue for the foreseeable future. This is from the government whose Prime Minister was confirmed, only minutes previously, as having approved 40 per cent pay rises for his special advisors!
Most significant is the fact that Osborne avoided mentioning ordinary working people for most of his speech; this was a budget for businesses, with the benefits reserved for fatcat bosses.
No major advanced economy in the World is growing faster than the UK, said Mr Osborne; more people are in work. This appears to be borne out by current employment figures (although it should be noted that this is due to a vast and questionable boom in self-employment – the number of employees has dropped by 60,000).
Where is the benefit to the British economy? Why has the deficit not been eliminated? Osborne said it stood at £157 billion in the year he came to office, and would be £108 billion this year, but in fact £39 billion was removed due to measures brought in by the previous Labour chancellor, Alistair Darling. He has cut government spending by something like £80 billion so far, but the deficit has dropped by – possibly – £10 billion. Not a good start to his speech.
There will be further investment in high-speed rail, even though there is no way of predicting whether this hugely costly investment in making train journeys 20 minutes faster will create any economic improvement.
There will be money to fund new centres for medical research – but will these be absorbed by private health firms after the public purse has paid for them?
There will be investment in faster extraction of oil from the North Sea – aiming to get as much as possible out before the Scottish referendum, in order to impoverish the Scots if they decide to go for independence?
And there will be investment in low-cost energy (finally killing the highly questionable green agenda) – meaning money for shale gas companies, and to hell with the environmental cost.
All this investment will go into businesses whose main contribution to the Treasury – Corporation Tax – has already dropped by a quarter (from 28 per cent to 21 per cent) and will go down to 20 per cent this year. This is less than the lowest level of Income Tax.
Up go the profits – down go the tax payments. Who benefits?
Council tax in England remains frozen, meaning fewer public services.
The personal tax allowance is to rise, so people may earn £10,500 before paying tax. This is nowhere near enough to offset the massive drop in living standards that has been caused by the Tory-led Coalition. The cost of living has risen for 44 out of the 45 months of this Parliament – for the whole period, if the earnings of high-paid bankers are removed from the calculation.
The threshold for payment of the 40p tax rate is to rise, so fewer people will pay the higher rate.
Savers are to be helped but – again – this is not a boost for the poor. Most working and unemployed families don’t have any spare money to put into the banks. How does it help them to know they would not pay any tax on savings up to £15,000 in an ISA, when they cannot afford to open one?
And there is a new Pensioner Bond for rich senior citizens (poorer pensioners don’t live long enough to benefit).
As Ed Miliband said in his scathing response, the Coalition can afford to give a tax cut of £200,000 per year to bankers who earn £5 million – but can’t afford £250 per year extra for nurses.
Mr Miliband said the Budget speech was more significant in what it hid than in what it actually said.
Working people are suffering under the Bedroom Tax, under cuts to their tax credits, and they are having to visit food banks if they want to eat.
This is a government that gives with one hand, but takes back much more with the other.
And the Conservatives have the bare-faced cheek to call themselves “The Workers’ Party”.
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Barry Davies said:
Pretty much everything he mentioned will come into force after 2015, when it won’t be his problem any more. I wonder who it is that has £15000 to spare on Tax free ISA’s instead of food?
Terry Cfc Poole said:
MPs of course
If they are now calling themselves the Worker’s Party (I find it very hard to resist putting an ei instead of a y), that worker is probably earing over £150000 per year. If they wanted to represent all workers they would be the Workers’ Party.
Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog.
Jenny Hambidge said:
Several ways to reduce unemployment.
1.Call anyone on sanctions or not claiming out of work benefits “employed”
2. Anyone self employed for 16 hours a week or more may only be earning a couple of pounds an hour for the actual work is classed as” employed” even though claiming working tax credit ( roughly the same amount they are paid under JSA.).
3 . people on zero hour contracts even though they have no money coming in because no work is offered is classed as “employed”
4. Turn a blind eye to scams where people are self employed but the company pays below the minimum wage hourly amount, because they know people are desperate enough to get out of the clutches of the degrading, demeaning jobcentreplus system.
Members of my family – one of which has a serious mental health problem and one of which is working herself into an early grave trying also to raise 3 children- are affected by this lie – that unemployment is falling!!!!
Curious to know why we export our N Sea oil and gas, but are in an agreement with Russia’s Gazprom to supply a quarter of the gas that WE use ourselves? Did anyone else pick up on the gas export comment during the speech?
Mike Sivier said:
I didn’t but my excuse is that I was trying to get all the broad strokes of the policies down on paper.
Barry Davies said:
Have to admit I missed that, but then I have M.E. and probably dozed for parts of the drone from the clown.
We’ve always exported NS oil because it’s high quality, so always above the average oil price. By doing things that way we make a slight gain. My guess it’s only a few %, but a few % of £bns is worth having.
@AM-FM: Until we end up in a barney with Putin and find we don’t have enough gas to keep ourselves running. The Russians are notorious for turning off the taps when they can’t get their own way. I see a possibly chilly winter coming up.
It really doesn’t make any sense to be doing things that way, that’s for sure. It also adds to my feeling that the Crimea thing is being stirred up so that Russia cuts off the gas and thereby enables our bunch of crooks to justify their fracking activities.
Am I being paranoid?
I have waited since Osborne announced the details of this budget for people to grasp the real implications of it but so far not one person has spotted the catastrophe that now awaits Britain.
I fully agree with the libertarian arguments in favour of allowing people to take the full cash value of their pension savings and use them as they will. Unfortunately this will have a truly awful effect upon Britain because when faced with the need to acquire a rock solid investment that earns them a reliable income to fund their retirement most people will choose to buy property and become landlords.
Thus the seeds of an enormous and ever increasing property bubble have been sowed and as these purchasers will be cash rich they will not be influenced by mortgage interest rates going up! Thus the price of keeping a roof over your head will rise ever higher as succeeding generations of pensioners enter the property market upon retirement and young married couples are faced with paying ever more simply to rent as property prices rise ever higher and they delay having children until middle age or beyond!
I personally do not believe that this situation has arisen by accident because the last 5 years of almost ZERO interest rates coupled with awful pension rates has created the perfect conditions for this bubble to grow,all that was needed was the OPPORTUNITY to opt out and that has now been given! We are now headed straight towards financial meltdown and the public are totally unaware!This situation will lead to the almost complete collapse of our birth rate as people delay starting a family for financial reasons and thus miss out completely and we,the indigenous British people,vanish from our own country. This is a deliberate act of genocide and nobody but me seems to have noticed!