Labour chiefs blast Osborne budget

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THE Labour Party’s South Tyneside hierarchy has launched a three-pronged attack on Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget.

The borough’s two MPs – David Miliband in South Shields and Stephen Hepburn for Jarrow – along with council leader, Iain Malcolm, all delivered withering assessments.

They found many more negatives than positives.

Mr Miliband said: “South Shields gave up on the Tories a long time ago, but now the Tories have given up on thousands of people, young and old.

“This Budget is a massive missed opportunity to help young people, and a kick in the teeth to older people with the changes to pensioners’ tax allowances.

“The Tories say it is ‘steady as she goes’ but the economy isn’t going anywhere. It is a millionaire’s budget that the Tories should be ashamed of.”

Mr Hepburn said: “This budget represents the same elitist principles we’ve come to expect. At a time when unemployment nationally, and in South Tyneside, is cause for huge concern, this Government’s priority is to cut taxes for the very richest in our society.”

Coun Malcolm believes Mr Osborne’s Budget has brought the borough ‘little cheer’.

He said: “I am concerned that, once again, local government is being required to shoulder an unfair burden, and I fear there is little to cheer for areas like South Tyneside.

“The Government will provide £30m to local authorities in England towards the transitional costs to new local support schemes for council tax – but assessments are that my own council will lose up to £7m because of the localisation of the business rates.

“The announcement of full council tax relief is something all councils will want to support, but we do need to know where the money is coming from, particularly as councils are being forced to cut council tax benefit by 10 per cent.

“The budget doesn’t address the skills gap we have in this region, it offers nothing substantial to train our young people in the skills necessary for business to flourish and it does nothing for our pensioners who have saved all their lives.”

Coun Malcolm also re-emphasised his opposition to local pay deals in the public sector.

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul