Scathing reaction to the Budget in South Tyneside

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond gestures while making his Budget statement to MPs in the House of Commons. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday March 8, 2017. See PA story BUDGET Main. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond gestures while making his Budget statement to MPs in the House of Commons. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday March 8, 2017. See PA story BUDGET Main. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

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Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget received a scathing response from senior political figures on South Tyneside.

Highlights of the Chancellor’s announcements yesterday included the introduction of T-levels – technical qualifications, an alternative to A-levels – for 16- to 19-year-olds, a rise in National Insurance contributions for the self-employed and an additional £2billion in funding for social care over the next three years for England.

But South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck, a Shadow Minister for Children and Families, was unimpressed: “The Tories have finally acknowledged the crisis in social care and announced £2billion in direct funds to social care but this does little to plug the £4.6 billion cuts to social care since 2010.

“This budget does nothing for the North East which was barely mentioned; nothing for the four million children living in poverty or for those just managing – the very group the Prime Minister promised to help on the steps of Downing Street seven months ago; it does nothing to address the drop in living standards, the rise in living costs, and nothing to tackle the chronic levels of low pay; to address the record levels of those on zero hours contracts or to help public sector workers who haven’t seen a rise in pay now for seven years.

“As usual we see a Tory Budget that puts the burden of responsibility on those who can least afford it. This time the self-employed have been hit with a rise in National Insurance contributions which will hit low and middle earners the most whilst corporations were offered tax cuts.

“This was a budget of broken promises, sticking plasters and rhetoric over reality. – with no mention whatsoever of how Brexit might affect the economy or jobs.”

Her Jarrow colleague Stephen Hepburn MP said the Chancellor had offered little to ordinary people.

“This was a budget which does nothing to help those people in my constituency who don’t know if their next pay packet will be enough or if they will still have a job tomorrow,” he said.

“The Chancellor boasted about a strong economy but try telling that to the many families who are struggling to make ends meet or left with no choice but to turn to a food bank.

“Cutting living standards for the many and raising taxes for the privileged few tells you everything you need to know about the Tories and it will only continue to get worse.”

Coun Ed Malcolm, lead member for innovation and resources at South Tyneside Council, described the speech as ‘yet again, more of the same.’ “The Chancellor had a chance to try and tackle some of the scandalous inequalities in this country and they did nothing,” he said.

“Instead he continued to follow on the economic policy that has failed our residents so far.

“The Government are spending more money than ever before yet our infrastructure is in dire need of a cash injection and our public services are at breaking point. It is now becoming a fact for councils across the country that unless something gives at Westminster, there is going to be a tipping point in service delivery at a local level.

“The Chancellor’s announcement of £2billion for adult social care nationally over the next three years does not even begin to address the crisis this country is facing.

“South Tyneside Council has had to reduce its adult social care spend by 20% since 2010 due to the lack of Government funding. We need a further £4million a year just to deal with cost pressures arising from the national living wage and demographic change.

“The adult social care levy on council tax raises only £1.5million this year.”