Crawley News 24 Column, Wednesday 22nd November 2017

So, was this the ‘People’s Budget’ we were promised? Erm, no.

Putting aside that growth is now the lowest it  has been since the Tories took office, with economic indicators sending out warning signals across the board, in terms of what the Budget actually had to offer for most people the answer is: not much.

Public services are in a state of emergency. We’re heading into winter with the NHS already in a state of crisis and our local CCG in Special Measures. The Worth Less campaign is highlighting that despite the much promised fairer funding formula schools in West Sussex are still on the brink. Meanwhile residents are increasingly finding that when they dial 999 and they’re told there are no police officers to dispatch. Where was the funding for public services in the Budget? Nowhere. Yet, while our services go unfunded, they did still manage to cut taxes for director shareholders and those inheriting wealth. The issue here isn’t money, it’s priorities.

Despite all the noise made by the Chancellor, the Budget contained no measures to directly increase house building and it has already been acknowledged by the independent Office of Budgetary Responsibility that the policy changes on Stamp Duty will only increase house prices. Clearly, regardless of the fanfare, that’s not going to help people who are unable to afford housing, although it will take more money out of public services.

Even the announcement regarding Universal Credit amounts to putting back only £1 for every £10 cut from the system and falls far short of Labour’s calls to halt the botched rollout and fix the system which is already causing homelessness in communities across the UK, including Crawley. Far from a People’s Budget, this is a Budget that fails to deliver for the country and fails to deliver for Crawley.

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