8 March 2017
Government’s weak budget plans are no solution to problems in society, say Greens
Budget measures announced today by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond have been slammed by the Green Group of Councillors as a ‘failure.’ Greens have condemned the proposals as ‘too little, too late,’ and for offering no viable alternatives to address inequality in society.
There are concerns that the focus of the budget plans, which offer more funding for ‘selective’ schools, raise taxes for the self-employed and offer only small concessions to the £2.9bn gap in adult social care will deepen inequality and also dramatically affect the people of Brighton and Hove.
There is also growing concern as to how business rate changes will affect the diverse and large number of small retailers and businesses in the city, including self-employed workers who now face increased tax. Greens have held several meetings with businesses in the city, with the issue also raised by MP Caroline Lucas in Parliament.
Councillor Phelim Mac Cafferty, Convenor of the Green Group, commented:
“There can be no doubt that Tory budget management continues to fail. The same Government that has crushed the capacity of local Councils has now been forced to put money back into adult social care, when they could have instead ringfenced this money. We have serious questions about where the proposed funding for adult social care will come from- if it follows previous decisions of this Government it will be money that is simply taken from other public sector bodies and most likely council funding. We are also concerned that the funding appears to be tied to further privatisation of the NHS through Sustainable Transformation Plans."
“The small businesses, charities and retailers that bring so much character and tourism to our city are now facing business rates rises – more than 400% in some cases. Yet domestic properties have not been revalued since 1990s and the wealthiest property owners only pay three times as much as those with the lowest value homes. 33 primary and 4 of our fantastic secondary schools are facing job losses and cuts whilst this Government decides instead to plough more money into new ‘selective’ grammar schools which the majority of parents, teachers and young people themselves do not want.”
“This Government has again looked at small changes that will clearly protect the already wealthy. We need serious and Greener alternatives – that look at fairness - like proper taxation for the wealthy and big business, take into account climate change, and cease the relentless destruction of all of our public services.”
The Green Group have made representations to the Government Treasury ministers and the Local Government Association, pushing for increased funds to support public services and to highlight the impact of cuts and austerity policies on the people of Brighton and Hove. Greens have also criticised the Government for neglecting the urgent issue of climate change and for making almost no mention of huge budget pressures expected as a result of Brexit.
Councillor Ollie Sykes, Green Finance lead, commented:
“This is at best a ‘too little, too late’ budget. It’s a budget that gives preferential treatment to Conservative pet projects at the expense of working people, the health service and the environment.”
“Funds for social care come too late to protect councils who have already made cuts this year because of the increasing pressure on local social care. £690m for new roads while fuel duty is frozen for the 7th year running ignores sustainable transport options and climate change. £320m for grammar schools comes at the expense of children everywhere in local authority supported schools. £325m to boost another unwanted NHS change programme, the ‘STP,’ that will provide further cuts to health services, has no democratic mandate and would be better spent on primary care or public health. With corporation tax decreasing too, this is the continuation of the Tory ‘race to the bottom’ approach that benefits the asset-rich and penalises everyone else.”