UNFORTUNATELY, the Chancellor’s Autumn budget was not a budget for working people – many of whom are hurting amid a devastating cost-of-living crisis.
With a 12 per cent rise in gas prices, petrol and diesel costs at record levels, a cut to the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift and five per ent inflation looking increasingly likely, it is set to be a devastating winter. The increase in National Insurance contributions will also hit workers hard.
After the budget, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) revealed average households will pay £3,000 more in tax by 2026/27 than when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.
No amount of ‘levelling up’ funding or Conservative spin is going to change that. Although welcome, a few grants for town centre repairs in the north and the Midlands needs to be complemented by a clear effort to boost the quality of life for normal people – otherwise it won’t fly.
The ‘levelling up’ grants totalling £1.25bn given to UK councils doesn’t even come close to compensating them for the £25.5bn that’s been cut from their budgets since 2010.
Contrary to the government’s arguments, real wages have fallen by over £23 per week on average between 2010 and 2021 – while any pay increases after the government lifted the public sector pay freeze will far from match increases in council tax and inflation.
It is worth being reminded that council spending per person has been cut by 25 per cent since 2010, while council tax has risen by nearly 60 per cent in the same period.
Warwickshire County Council and Warwick District Council have had more than 40 per cent of their budgets cut.
The only thing being levelled up is inequality, scarcity, and in-work poverty – which is up by 2million since 2010.
Our efforts have quite rightly been focused on COP26. I am in Glasgow.
For once, I agreed with the Prime Minister. We are one minute to midnight on the doomsday clock.
I’m glad he appears to recognise this as the actions of his government appear to the contrary.
A new coal mine, scrapping the green homes grant, slow to electrify our transport network and missing its targets for the fourth, fifth and sixth carbon budgets – legally-binding emissions targets the Labour government committed to in 2008.
And as for Labour, we would deliver a Climate Investment Pledge – £28bn every year for the rest of the decade. That’s investment in bringing down your energy bills, affordable public transport systems, cleaner air, and backing British industries with a real plan for jobs and wages. That’s what real action on climate change looks like.
But if our government were truly serious, it would go after the biggest emitters, withdraw scandalous taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuel companies, decarbonise pension funds and challenge our banks that are investing hundreds of billions in polluting industries every year.
We are running out of time and COP26 must be a success. The lives of future generations depend on it. And the world is watching.