Last Wednesday, Chancellor referred to the Spring Budget as ‘fair’ on more than one occasion.
How is it ‘fair’ that self-employed workers will have to pay more National Insurance but will not have the same access to social security support such as Statutory Sickness Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay and Industrial Injuries Benefit as other workers do? I have a self-employed constituent working in the construction industry who was worried about taking time off when he had a hernia. According to a BIS survey, 1 in 3 self-employed people worry about getting ill; the Budget will not have improved on that. In addition self-employed women are going back to work days after giving birth; that’s not healthy for anyone.
How is it fair that 2.6 million people in low paid jobs – in Oldham that’s 1 in 3 workers – will be worse off by on average £2,100 a year as the Government has refused to reverse cuts to Universal Credit Work Allowances? With wages barely above 2007 levels, and inflation rising dramatically, he failed to address the poverty 7.4 million working people face or the poverty faced by their children. Currently 3.9 million children live in poverty and 3 out of 4 these children are in working families. And without action, the Institute of Fiscal Studies predicts child poverty will rise by over a million by 2022.
He said nothing about the freeze in Child Benefit and other social security support, and once again revised down the National Living Wage in 2020.
How is it fair that half a million disabled people found not fit for work, will face a further cut in support amounting to over £1500 a year? Disabled people are twice more likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people because of the extra costs associated with their condition and new analysis has revealed a disability poverty gap as a result of the cumulative cuts in support since 2010.
The Government’s own Office for Budget Responsibility says that on current policy, spending in real terms per head on social security, excluding pensions and JSA, will be 10% lower by 2021-22 than in 2015-16. As a percentage of GDP we spend less on social security support than the EU average.
The Chancellor failed to deliver any respite for out beleaguered NHS, which is on its knees as it was in the 1990s after a decade of Tory rule. The extra funding for social care announced yesterday is little more than a sticking plaster. The respected think tank The King’s Fund has said it needs at least double that. And this crisis extends to our schools and other public services.
The Chancellor has failed to deliver his promise of a fair budget, with tax giveaways continuing for those at the top; as we’ve heard from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) and the Resolution Foundation the burden around tax and social security changes has fallen on people on low and middle income and they’re really feeling squeezed. In fact this budget shows a complete detachment from the reality of life for millions of people across the UK.
Governing is about choices. Labour will make different choices, through a fair taxation system where those who can afford to pay their fair share, introducing a Real Living Wage of £10 per hour making sure work always pays, reviving our NHS and care system, and transforming our social security system, so that our NHS, care and social security support is there for any one of us in our time of need.