Apparently we're all better off and there's no such thing as a cost of living crisis. That's the impression George Osborne wants to give after his Budget. In Plymouth families are still struggling to pay the bills - it is time for a better plan.
We need a better plan and a Labour Budget
This Budget cannot hide the fact that after five years of the Tories, people in Plymouth are worse off and our NHS is going backwards. The Chancellor is claiming the economy is improving and the benefits are being felt by everyone - but I keep meeting people every day who are struggling. A few months of wages rising faster than costs won't take away five years of the opposite.
George Osborne gives with one hand, but takes away much more with the other hand. The IFS says his tax and benefit changes since 2010, including the big VAT rise, have cost families on average £1,127 a year. No pre-election tax cut can make up for that.
And the Tories are planning more extreme spending cuts after the election, which go way beyond balancing the books and will put our NHS at risk.
We need a better plan and a Labour Budget which puts families first and saves our NHS.
Out of touch Tories say you’re better off
Are you better off now than you were in 2010? I didn’t think so. The Tories want to convince us that people are not experiencing a squeeze on living standards and a cost of living crisis. This week’s Budget changed nothing for working people here in Plymouth Sutton and Devonport when it comes to affording the bills.
George Osborne spent an hour telling people they’ve never had it so good. But after five years of the Tory government, working people are still an average £1,600 a year worse off.
The Tories came into office promising to protect our National Health Service, make people better off and balance the books. But their plan hasn't worked and the Budget said nothing about the NHS. NHS staff in Plymouth do an amazing job but we can’t keep asking them to do more and more with less and less. The Tories are privatising our health service and I’m worried that the NHS as we know it won’t survive five more years of the Tories.
The Tory government started Budget day with plans for extreme spending cuts and they ended Budget day with plans for extreme spending cuts which go beyond simply balancing the books.
They would mean deep cuts to Plymouth’s police, defence and social care which are almost impossible to achieve. That’s why I believe the Tory plans can only be achieved by putting the NHS at risk and raising VAT again.
Before the last election the Tories said they wouldn’t raise VAT or re-organise the NHS - both turned out to be false. VAT went up and the NHS saw the biggest top-down reorganisation since it was created.
That’s what you get from a Tory Chancellor who gives with one hand and takes away much more with the other. The Tories can’t build a better future for working people because they only stand up for a privileged few.
Labour has set out a better plan for Britain's future; a plan that works for ordinary families, rewarding the hard work they do and saving the NHS they rely on.
I think people in Plymouth need an MP and a Government that is on their side.
So a Labour Budget will raise living standards by increasing the minimum wage and with 25 hours of free childcare for working parents.
We will save our NHS from the Tories with 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 GPs and cancer tests guaranteed in one week, paid for by closing tax loopholes and a mansion tax on properties over £2million.
We will cut business rates for small firms, reduce tuition fees to £6,000 a year, increase the student grant and guarantee an apprenticeship for every school leaver who gets the grades. We will cut taxes for millions of working people through a lower 10p starting rate.
And we will balance the books in a fairer way by reversing the Tory tax cut for millionaires and scrapping the Bedroom Tax.
That’s the Labour Budget we need; a better plan that puts working families first and saves our NHS.
I support re-opening the airport but I'm very concerned that the Government is playing politics with the airport.
The Budget did include a brief mention of Plymouth Airport. The Government is going to do a review into re-opening the airport. Having spent five years refusing to help those who want to re-open the airport I’m skeptical about this pre-election pledge. If this is to be anything more than a cynical press release to win votes ahead of the election they need to back this review up with action - and that means funding for Plymouth. If all this review actually turns out to be is a press release then we will have been let down again. I support re-opening the airport but to do that we need politicians to offer actual solutions not false hope.
There was one bit of good news in the Budget for Plymouth - that South Yard is being made a new Enterprise Zone. This is good news for the businesses who will be setting up there and further proof that Plymouth is a city on the up. The City Deal and the Enterprise Zone have happened because of an enormous amount of work from a large number of people.
The City Council deserves the lion’s share of the thanks but so do local businesses, the MOD, local MPs and surrounding councils and the LEP. They all understood that when we work together we can achieve great things for our city. Well done to everyone involved in this excellent bit of cross-party work. We need more like this.
Where’s the new trains?
Before the Budget I called on George Osborne to announce new trains for the Great Western route. Our trains are old and although they’re well mantained by workers at Laira Depot they need replacing. Other parts of the country are getting new trains so why isn’t the south west?
The Chancellor announced yet another new franchise for the south west, but like most things in this Budget it was big on spin and light on detail.
I’m clear about what we need on transport: a new fast and resilient train line that avoids Dawlish so our train line stays open despite the weather and new rolling stock to replace the old trains we currently have. Despite the focus on Dawlish the Tories haven’t made a decision about a new line and haven’t committed to new trains. Yet again, we’re supposed to get by on Government press releases not any firm action. They’re letting us down and frankly, Plymouth deserves better.
Labour's better plan
Today's Budget fails to deliver for many people in Plymouth but what would Labour do differently? Here's an outline of what a Labour Budget would look like:
- Labour will raise living standards with an £8 minimum wage, 25 hours of free childcare for working parents of three and four year olds and by freezing energy bills until 2017.
- We will guarantee apprenticeships for every school leaver if they get the grades, cut tuition fees to £6,000 and reduce business rates for small firms.
- We will rescue our NHS from the Tories with 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 GPs and cancer tests guaranteed in one week - paid for by closing tax loopholes and a mansion tax on properties over £2 million.
- We will cut taxes for 24 million working people with a lower 10p starting rate of tax and scrap the cruel Bedroom Tax. And we will reverse the Tory tax cut for millionaires to help balance the books in a fairer way.
That's the Budget we need and that's the budget I will vote for if I'm elected in May.
Ed Balls: This Budget cannot hide the fact that after five years of the Tories working families are worse off and our NHS is going backwards
Ed Balls, Labour's Shadow Chancellor had this to say about the Budget:
“This Budget cannot hide the fact that after five years of the Tories working families are worse off and our NHS is going backwards.
“And the Tories are planning more extreme spending cuts after the election, which go way beyond balancing the books and will put our NHS at risk.
“George Osborne gives with one hand, but takes away much more with the other hand. The IFS says his tax and benefit changes since 2010, including the big VAT rise, have cost families on average £1127 a year. No pre-election tax cut can make up for that.
“We need a better plan and a Labour Budget which puts working families first and saves our NHS. We’ll raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour, cut taxes for working people with a lower 10p starting rate of tax and reduce business rates for small firms. And we’ll balance the books in a fair way by reversing the Tories’ tax cut for millionaires.”
How did the Budget affect you?
Let me know in the comments or by getting in touch how the Budget affected you and your family. Did it do enough to help people in Plymouth who are really struggling with bills and the cost of living? Did it do enough to reverse five years of cruel cuts on our public services? Let me know your views.