Brighton & Hove Greens today voiced their reaction to the Autumn Statement by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. The Autumn Statement and its associated Local Government Financial Settlement, details of which are to emerge over the coming two weeks or so, dictate how much income local government will receive from central government and the extent of its powers to raise taxes locally.
The city council’s Green lead member for finance, Councillor Ollie Sykes, said:
“It looks as if this Autumn Statement is as wintry as they come for communities in Brighton & Hove. For four years, the Chancellor has been putting ever more financial pressure on struggling local government, punishing the poorest members of our community and those who most need core council services, such as housing, education and personal care. Today’s Statement, with its announcement that public spending will be further tightened by another £10bn, with a far greater impact on local government than national government, brings no relief.
“It is an immoral Autumn Statement. We’re told the economy is recovering. We’re told there are billions to spare in lower taxes for the very wealthy and for excessive new road schemes, yet the Chancellor is making life even harder for people on very low incomes.
“Benefits for working age people are to be frozen for two years. These are people who are already finding it impossible to make ends meet, using food banks, suffering fuel poverty. But at the same time, for the second year running, the government is cutting the subsidies to their council tax and pushing councils to raise their charges by a staggering three times.
“George Osborne is steadily increasing the tax burden on the working age poor while providing tax cuts to the wealthiest. He is continuing to take from the poor to give to the rich, using local government as his secret tax collector. But in Brighton & Hove, the Greens will not do his dirty work for him. We are determined not to increase the tax burden for the poorest, and not to take part in transferring wealth from the poor to the rich.”