I wanted this Budget to be a game changer, packed with measures for growth that would put the economy back on the path to recovery. I was cheering the Chancellor on. I want him to be getting it right. Sure, he’s not my political colour but getting people back into work and businesses confident to take on more staff, innovate and grow is too important to play politics with. Sadly, this Budget left me disappointed.
Instead of some really innovative thinking and a change of course the Chancellor delivered a Budget that was more of the same. As he announced that he was halving his growth figures from 1.2% to just 0.6% it was apparent to everyone but Mr Osborne that his plan isn’t working. The evidence is clear: the UK has just lost our coveted triple A credit status, our borrowing is increasing, on a weekly basis we read more poor output figures and our economy teeters on the brink of a triple dip recession. Today’s Budget was Mr Osborne’s moment to show the public he understood what ordinary families are facing and to send the message that more of the same wasn’t acceptable. But he didn’t. He ploughed on regardless.
Growth is down and borrowing is up. This is the result of an economic plan that is in tatters. Borrowing is set to be £245 billion more than planned; the Government’s promise to balance the books by the next General Election will not be met and the national debt will not now be falling until 2017/18.
And who is paying for this failure? It is not Mr Osborne who has kept his job despite failing every test he has set himself. It is ordinary families in the south west that are paying the price: unemployment is rising according to new figures out today, prices are rising faster than wages, incomes are being squeezed, benefits are being cut and not just for people out of work, disabled people are being targeted by a cruel bedroom tax and the OBR has confirmed that by 2015 people will be worse off than they were in 2010. That’s no way to encourage growth. It is apparent for everyone but the people who write Tory sound bites that it is time for a change of course, but today’s Budget only gave us more of the same.
So, as ordinary families face higher taxes if you’re a millionaire you’re about to get a massive tax cut. Yes, in two week’s time the top rate of tax will be cut. If you’re on a cool £1million a year you’ll be taking home an extra £42,500 a year and if you’re on £5m your take home pay just went up by a quarter of a million a year. The people I speak to on the doors in Plymouth are not going to see the benefit of the millionaire’s tax cut but they are seeing their own taxes and bills go up whilst their services are being cut. That’s the wrong priority.
The 1p cut in beer duty will be welcome but you’ll need to drink 1,000 pints to save just a tenner. Help onto the housing ladder is welcome too but the devil is always in the detail when it comes to schemes like this and though cuts in fuel tax are good families are already paying more than ever before to fill their car up. A few pence of already high taxes here or there won’t kickstart the economy – we needed more and we got more of the same. The Chancellor acknowledged this himself when he said the Budget would be fiscally neutral – not more, not less – just more of the same.
What I was looking for today was a change of direction and bold action to kick start our flatlining economy. What people tell me on the doorsteps in Plymouth is that they want the Government to give real help to families on middle and low incomes – not more of the same failing policies and a huge tax cut for millionaires. This Budget did little to help families struggling with rising utility bills, pay freezes and job worries. I’m disappointed by this Budget. Britain deserves better than this.