I am appalled at this government’s relentless assault on the poor and
vulnerable which is redoubled in this budget. It was bad enough to set a punitive cap on how much help a family can get from the government, but to set a total cap on government spending on welfare – irrespective of the number requiring help – is ostentatiously vindictive and callous.
This attacks disabled people, the low paid and all those who are likely to need help – it even includes statutory maternity and paternity pay.
In contrast, the chancellor crowed that he was raising the tax threshold on the highest paid, “because I am also passing the full benefit of today’s personal allowance increase on to higher rate taxpayers”. These are people earning 42,000, 43, 50, 60, all the way up to £100,000 who will be paying less income tax because of this budget.
When it comes to substantial policy announcements the Chancellor again shows a lack of creativity. In housing, his plans to extend the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme will do no more than inflate London’s already over-heated housing market and the creation of a new Garden City in Ebbsfleet will only create an additional 150,000 new homes. Shelter estimated last year that we need to be building an additional 250,000 new homes every year to meet need. Whilst £150m to regenerate housing estates is a drop in the ocean, it is to be welcomed. But only if it will create more truly affordable family homes.
In the real world, outside the blinkered bunker of Conservative thinking, it is clear that the way to improve government revenues is to grow the economy, creating real jobs, improving infrastructure and putting money directly into the hands of people who will spend it. This budget fails on all these counts.
Here in Tower Hamlets, we will be redoubling our efforts to do all we can to mitigate the worst effects of this budget.
We have just heard from the GLA that projects including Blackwall Reach would be eligible for part of the £150m funding for estates regeneration. I look forward to seeing the detail.