Mary Honeyball: Osborne's Budget helps millionaires and fails business
The London Labour MEP gives the Chancellor both barrels
“Nod your head if you’re getting the 50p tax rate. Hands up if you’re not getting the 50p tax rate,” shouted Ed Miliband from the despatch box.
He was making the point that this is a tax for the very wealthy as we are just days away from offering a tax cut to millionaires. While the Chancellor has given this tax relief to millionaires, public sector pay increases are capped at 1% for 2015/16.
One of the things Osborne discussed yesterday was housing. Again, Miliband was on form and made rousing remarks about the Prime Minister’s plans from 2011 when he made an announcement to give the housing industry “a shot in the arm” which would have seen 100,000 families able to buy their own homes.
Just 18 months later, a mere 1500 families have been helped, that’s 98,500 broken promises. As a result, some 130,000 jobs were lost in construction. “It was a failing economic plan,” said Miliband.
The Budget may not affect millionaires, but it will hit ordinary hard working people. Osborne said this was a Budget for those with aspiration, but in reality the police, nurses and other public servants will be hit hard.
Working families are set to receive a tax-break amounting to an extra £1,500 per child each year which won’t come into force until 2015. But parents need help now because, as we know, the average family spends 27% of their total income on childcare costs.
These costs rise by an average of 5-6% each year, so by 2015, the cost will have mounted significantly which will prohibit many working parents going back to work.
The break applies only to families where both parents are working. If one parent stays at home they cannot take advantage of this, neither will families benefit where one parent works a small number of hours each week and is not earning enough to pay income tax.
Curiously the Chancellor hasn’t taken any action to give concessions on business rates.
Indeed the spokesman for the Forum of Private Business, Robert Downes, said: “Ask any small businesses what they wanted to see from this Budget and many will have said: ‘action on business rates’. We said before the Budget Government couldn’t keep clobbering businesses with hike after hike, and unfortunately we haven’t seen that sentiment acknowledged today by Mr Osborne.”
Last year, Miliband reminded us, the Chancellor trumpeted the National Loan Guarantee Scheme which he abolished just four months later. The Funding for Lending Scheme he promised would transform the prospects for small businesses-none of which worked out.
So what will we see U-turns on this year? That remains to be seen but the important thing to remember is “We are all in this together”…or as Ed Miliband put it this afternoon “#Downgraded Chancellor”.
Mary Honeyball is Labour MEP for London.
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