Today (March 8th, 2017), Phillip Hammond released his Spring Budget. I decided to outline my thoughts on what he said. I am concerned with issues regarding social care, chronic low pay, NHS funding, deficit and education to name a few.
It is no secret that the policies of the Tory government have been too often focused on big businesses and a privileged few. These kinds of tax giveaways will cost another £70 billion between now and 2022. Hammond said that “we will not saddle future generations with debt”. I think this is ironic coming from a party who has in fact done that very thing with the increase of student loans. The budget stated that the UK's national debt is forecast to rise to 86.6% of GDP this year, peaking at 88.8% next year.
Those who are in employment should be able to sustain themselves and their families confidently, not struggling to make ends meet. Under the Tories, real pay is still at an all time low, with six million people earning less than the living wage, and four million children living in poverty. This budget has stated an increase in taxes for those who are self-employed. I ask Mr Hammond how he is going to differentiate those who are legitimately self-employed, and those members of our society who are stuck on unfair zero hour contracts,
I have said before that social care in this country is in a state of emergency, and with a growing population of older people, this needs to be a top priority. The number of beds in NHS hospitals has fallen by 10% under the tories. I agree with Hammond that “everyone should enjoy security and dignity in old age”, but would wholeheartedly disagree that this government is going to help do this as the £2bn injection into social care proposed in the budget doesn't even cover half of the £4.6bn that was cut from the budget in the last parliament. Hardly "The party of the NHS" if you ask me.
The current governments spending on education continues to be an issue. From 1997 until 2010, expenditure on education and training gradually increased in real terms. Since 2010 expenditure has decreased by £13.9bn at 2015-16 prices.
I have mentioned before my priority to defend a strong education for all, not just those fortunate enough to attend a selective school. The budget’s plan to focus their £320m funding for developing new grammar schools clearly shows their ignorance to the stress on existing schools. Furthermore the £1bn capital for a small number of free schools, with only a quarter of this being dished out between thousands of other schools.
On international Women’s Day, it is disappointing to see that the treasury are still taking £80bn in cuts from women, which is 5x more than the affect on men. I implore the government to stop breaking promises, (- the Conservative 2015 manifesto stated that they would not raise national insurance, a pledge that they have broken today.) and work to create a budget that is focused on policy, not ideology.