RISHI Sunak’s Budget has been slammed by Labour leaders in Bridgwater for leaving out vital reforms.
Town council leader Cllr Brian Smedley said “Don’t be fooled by the gloss put on this by Sunak. Underneath this gleaming golden stairway stuff there’s the policies of Maggie Thatcher.
“The packaging is pure ‘pass the parcel’ and when you finally unwrap it and get to what’s really there it’ll be a boxing glove on a spring to smack you in the face.
“They may have stolen some left rhetoric – green industrial revolution, national infrastructure bank, corporation tax rises, but it’s a sham.
“These are things that Labour promised at the elections but with realistic funding behind them. A national infrastructure bank with £12bn won’t deliver anything near the £250bn needed. Indicators already show our economy will be 4% smaller because of permanent damage effect of the pandemic.
“We’ve been hit the worse out of every top world economy, and we also have the worse death rate. This is nothing that can be waved away by shiny smooth Instagram posts and smiley press conferences.
“Inside all this are hidden cuts to health and a tax freeze totally unable to deal with a surge in inflation. The Furlough system at 80% of pay is lower than most of Europe but in July Sunak expects companies to contribute 10% then 20% in August . That’s when shareholders will decide if jobs are worth it and that’s when we will start to see a spike in unemployment.
“If Sunak is serious he should have done a job guarantee scheme to create new skilled jobs and a massive programme of retraining to prepare people for the changing job market.
“And nothing here addresses the biggest scandal of the rent racket. Landlords, a totally unproductive blight on people’s lives and a central product of capitalism. These are some of the biggest profiteers from the pandemic and the people trapped in rent debt are some of the impending recessions major victims, whose rent buys them nothing.
“There’s no increase in higher rates of income tax, no tax of dividends and no windfall tax on pandemic profiteers, banks, corporate landlords, streaming services, delivery companies.
“Where, in fact, is the commitment to council house building, where’s the real green new deal, where’s pay increases for frontline workers, why no lift in statutory sick pay and what about the working poor?
“The real problem with this budget isn’t what was in it it’s what wasn’t. And that’s exactly what and crucially, who, the Tories don’t ever think about.”
‘Nothing in the Budget for frontline workers’
The town council’s economy spokesman, Cllr Mick Lerry, added “Well, the Chancellor did not recognise the escalation in the gross inequality in Britain. Although the £20 uplift in Universal Credit will be extended it will fall away very soon and people will be worse off.
“The support for house buying will only fuel an increase in house prices and there is no support for the building of council houses, needed for many people who will only be able to rent a property.
“The extension of the Furlough scheme will rely on increased funding from the employer, which could lead to many workers facing redundancy, before they can return to employment.
“There was nothing in the budget for frontline workers who had worked through the pandemic, many on extremely low wages, which shows that this Government does not really care about levelling up.
“The Freeport status went to Plymouth and not to Bristol and the Gravity site, so the much-lorded plan for the local economy will not happen, even though there was a great deal of local Conservative support for the scheme.
“Although there was an announcement about the Town Fund, the council will have wait to see if the funding covers the 11 projects in the Town Investment Plan. The Chancellor did not recognise that the economy has not just been damaged by the pandemic, but also from a decade of austerity and much has to be done to repair the damage.
“Even during the pandemic there have been individuals who have increased their wealth while workers have been on a low standard of living.
“There needs to be real Government investment to get the Green economy up and running for a full recovery. The budget today was not a long term plan for future growth and income equality.”