Last week’s budget was a key test for Theresa May’s Conservative government and by almost any measure the Tories failed this test.
The headlines in the days after the budget were dominated by the Tories breaking their manifesto commitment not to raise National Insurance, with low income self-employed households losing up to 16% of their income from the budget.
At a time when our National Health Service is under tremendous pressure it is an insult to our hard working doctors, nurses and support staff that the additional funds that are so badly needed were not provided. Prominent Leave campaigners promised an extra £350million a week for the NHS but we’ve still not seen a penny of this money, or any plan for it.
There were small measures to try to reduce the impact of the massive Tory increase in business rates on local traders, but local businesses are telling me that these will barely scratch the surface of the problem.
The chancellor failed to mention Brexit in his speech, but he has had to increase Government borrowing by an eye watering £100 billion because of Brexit and the budget deficit which was meant to have been eliminated by the end of the 2010-2015 parliament is now predicted not to be tackled until halfway through the 2020-2025 parliament!
There were no further commitments in the budget to tackle the housing crisis in London, nor steps to reduce the huge further £400million cut to London’s policing budget or to reverse some of the cuts to renewable energy investment that are needed to tackle climate change.
At a time when we need a new station in Camberwell there was no new money for transport and the Tories much vaunted changes to social care funding won’t even restore half of the money that they’ve cut nationally from care budgets since 2010.
Altogether a really poor budget that demonstrated the ineptitude of this Tory government, the real financial cost of Brexit and will fail to reduce inequality or increase fairness in our country.