Yesterday Chancellor Phillip Hammond delivered his Budget speech, which lays out his plans for future government spending.
Cllr Vince Maple, Councillor for Chatham Central and Leader of the Medway Labour Group said, ‘The Conservative government have once again promised the end of austerity but that is not reflected in the budget delivered today. The Institute for Fiscal Studies say a minimum of £19bn extra is needed by 2023 just to stop further cuts to departments – and an additional £7bn to stop further cuts to social security. Much more will be needed to start undoing the damage caused by cuts since 2010.
‘The £20bn promised for the NHS is “simply not enough” according to the health foundation, our social care system faces a funding gap of over £2.5bn by 2020, and 1 million elderly people are not getting the care they need. Local councils face a funding gap of £7.8bn by 2025, and local services are at breaking point.
‘Warm words from the government about the end of austerity is a feeble distraction for a budget that doesn’t even come close to meeting what the country’s needs for sustainable healthcare, schools, social care, and other public services. This budget is not fixing the fundamentals and is simply not capable of delivering a more prosperous Britain. Labour will properly fund our public services, make sure the rich are taxed fairly, invest in 400,000 new green jobs, and rebuild our economy for the many not the few.’
Cllr Teresa Murray, Councillor for Rochester East and Medway Labour Spokesperson for Health said, ‘The Tories are clearly in denial about Universal Credit, throwing good money after bad in an attempt to prop up a deeply flawed and disastrously mismanaged system which is pushing working people in to poverty. Universal Credit will leave the poorest families, including half of single parents, £200 a month worse off, yet 75% of post-2015 cuts to social security are yet to come. While pushing people in to poverty, the Tories will have handed out £110bn in corporate tax giveaways by the end of this Parliament, and that is completely unconscionable.
‘Universal Credit isn’t working, and continuing its rollout is pure pig-headedness. Labour will pause and fix Universal Credit and implement a new Child Poverty Strategy. We will introduce a real living wage of £10 an hour by 2020, and invest in genuinely affordable homes that will help bring down the housing benefit bill, all of which will help people to be more self-sufficient and allow them to support themselves and their family.’
Cllr Andy Stamp, Councillor for Gillingham North and Medway Labour Spokesperson for Regeneration and Communities said, ‘Massive spending cuts over the last eight years have starved local government of the funding they need to deliver services effectively. Local councils face a funding gap of £7.8bn by 2025, and local services are at breaking point.
‘The legacy of these short-sighted cuts means that the amount promised in the budget is simply not enough to do vital regeneration work needed here in Medway such as road maintenance and pothole repair to keep Medway moving. Once problems like potholes have reached a certain severity the cost to repair them goes up exponentially; Tory cuts have prevented councils from carrying out essential work meaning that it will now cost over £10 billion and take local authorities an average 12 years to clear the current roads repair backlog.
‘Labour councils are leading the way in standing up for local services, finding innovative ways to support our communities with dwindling resources. Labour supports the devolution of power and funding to local government so that people can take control of their communities and determine their own priorities.’
Cllr Clive Johnson, Councillor for Gillingham South and Medway Labour Spokesperson for Children and Young People said, ‘We have a situation right now where schools are using Amazon Wishlists in the hope that the community will donate the supplies necessary to keep classrooms running, and 94% of teachers are having to pay for school essentials such as books.
‘With the schools budget in England slashed by £2.8bn since 2015, the £400m barely scratches the surface of what’s needed. The Chancellor’s comment that this funding will help schools “buy the little extras they need” goes to show just how out of touch the Tories really are with the reality of what their austerity is doing to this country.
‘This insufficient funding commitment proves that austerity is far from over; only Labour will truly end austerity and stop the cuts to school budgets with a real terms increase in funding, as well as free school meals for primary school children and class sizes of under 30 for all 5, 6, and 7 year olds.’
Cllr Naushabah Khan, Councillor for Gillingham South and Medway Labour Spokesperson for Housing said, ‘This Conservative government has presided over eight years of failure in housing including a 26% increase in homelessness in the last four years, and a dramatic fall in home ownership. The budget has failed to deliver the radical new approach to housing this country needs, and Phillip Hammond has made it clear that the Tories have no plan to fix the housing crisis.
‘The Government will build only 13,000 new homes with housing associations across the whole country, when there are 80,000 households in temporary accommodation including 123,230 children.
‘Labour’s New Deal on Housing will build the homes the country needs, with 100,000 genuinely affordable homes to buy and rent a year by the end of the Parliament. Investing in affordable homes will help bring down the £23bn a year housing benefit bill, help reduce homelessness and rough sleeping, and help young people and first time buyers afford a new home.’
Cllr Tristan Osborne, Councillor for Luton and Wayfield and Medway Labour Spokesperson for Community Safety said, ‘It’s disgraceful that the Budget doesn’t provide a penny for police forces which are facing huge demand, with 21,000 fewer officers and 6,700 fewer community support officers since 2010 despite a promise to protect the frontline.
‘The Tories are letting down the victims of crime by cutting police number; in Medway we have 300 fewer police officers than eight years ago, and with crime up 36% in Medway and violent crime accounting for almost a third of that figure, it’s crucial that we get more police officers on the street.
‘Under the Tories officer numbers have fallen to their lowest in 30 years, but by reversing Tory cuts to Capital Gains Tax worth £2.7bn Labour will hire 10,000 extra officers, bringing safety and security to our communities.’
"This budget is not fixing the fundamentals and is simply not capable of delivering a more prosperous Britain. Labour will properly fund our public services... and rebuild our economy for the many not the few." Cllr Vince Maple, Councillor for Chatham Central and Leader of the Medway Labour Group
"The budget has failed to deliver the radical new approach to housing this country needs, and Phillip Hammond has made it clear that the Tories have no plan to fix the housing crisis." Cllr Naushabah Khan, Councillor for Gillingham South and Medway Labour Spokesperson for Housing
"It’s disgraceful that the Budget doesn't provide a penny for police forces which are facing huge demand, with 21,000 fewer officers and 6,700 fewer community support officers since 2010 despite a promise to protect the frontline." Cllr Tristan Osborne, Councillor for Luton and Wayfield and Medway Labour Spokesperson for Community Safety