Last week’s Budget showed just who this Government is out to cultivate and to reward: the wealthy fortunate enough to have savings, people able to put aside £15,000 a year for a rainy day, those who got the millionaires’ tax cut last April, and big energy businesses already profiteering at your expense.
To those that have, more shall be given, is the motto of this Chancellor.
Back in the real world, the majority of hardworking Newham families and residents see their living standards continually falling and are on average £1,600 a year worse off, since Cameron was elected in 2010.
What does this say about the Government’s attitude to Newham and places like it? The Budget did little or nothing to provide jobs and apprenticeships: little or nothing to help families and households struggling to make ends meet and provide the basics, let alone the luxury of saving. It did little or nothing to provide more affordable housing, or to regulate the rampant private rented sector. It did nothing to promote a living wage, nor control zero hours contracts.
In short, we saw nothing to benefit an area with a young population, where wages and job stability are low, where savings are never an easy option.
Then they patronise us all with an advert saying the Government was, "Helping hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy," by cutting tax on beer and bingo. This is no answer to the cost of living crisis, no answer for the hundreds of thousands using food banks, no answer to soaring rents. It’s a patronising gimmick. As your e-mails and Facebook messages told me, many readers only wish they had the money to enjoy a night out.
Labour, in contrast to the Government, called for action to secure a strong, balanced and sustainable recovery, including a compulsory jobs guarantee to get the young and long term unemployed back to work.
Above all, we call for fairness for families and individuals, as well as fairness for communities.
The Budget is yet another example of an out-of-touch Government looking after their mates, and it grieves me deeply.