Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Budget thoughts

According to the calculator, I'm going to be about £100 better off as a result of the Budget. So yay for that.

And it's quite right that the people who earn the most are being asked to contribute a little more. So yay for that.

And there are some good policies on a whole range of policies from helping people get jobs to international development. So yay for that too.

But the one thing above all that I'm really gutted about is not that overall these are small things and timid-politics-as-usual when that's manifesly inadequate in the current situation. It's not even that this was Labour's last chance to have any hope of winning the next election, and they've blown it. It is that the government decided, completely unnecessarily, to break their promise to halve child poverty by next year.

Back in 1999, Labour said that by 2010 they would halve the number of children living in poverty, and by 2020 reduce child poverty to the same levels as the countries with the best levels of child well-being.

And they nearly, nearly did it. If they'd decided today to increase spending by £4 billion on benefits and tax credits, they'd have managed that achievement, in spite of all the economic crisis. But they didn't. So now it won't happen.

There are big challenges in years ahead. It would have been a constant source of inspiration as we try to reduce carbon emissions by 2020, for example, if Labour had delivered in 2010 on a seemingly impossible pledge made in 1999. And it would have meant that the next few years would have seen hundreds of thousands of children growing into adulthood having a fair start in life, rather than struggling to get by without the essentials that others take for granted. These are the citizens, workers and parents of the future who Britain will be relying on in years to come.

On the radio news just now it was reported that 'top earners will be hit hardest' by the budget. That's a load of nonsense. The people who will be hit hardest are not those earning a quarter of a million a year whose tax bills have gone up by a few thousand, but those for whom the problems caused by the economy started long before 2007, who rely on our government for help when they need it, and who haven't had that help from Labour's last meaningful budget. And I'd much rather that instead of making me £100 better off, that money had gone to where it could have done the most good.

8 Comments:

At 9:54 pm , OpenID thelocalgovernmentofficer said...

As someone with a stronger grasps of the specifics of welfare policy than me, I'd welcome your thoughts on whether I've gone mad, or whether the LHA proposal in the budget is potentially a bit silly (quite apart from clawing back a small amount of money from people who don't have much in the first place).

http://thelocalgovernmentofficer.wordpress.com/2009/04/22/budget-housing-building-and-local-housing-allowance/

 
At 10:16 pm , Blogger donpaskini said...

I'd missed that.

Sadly, you are completely correct. What an idiotic way of (not) saving money, redistributing money from people who receive LHA to their landlords.

 
At 9:37 am , Anonymous John said...

Fingers crossed they're just waiting for the upcoming Child Poverty Bill? I Don't know quite how these things work; agree that this is the big failure of the budget.

 
At 2:47 pm , Anonymous tim f said...

I had mixed feelings about the budget too. Of course, I'm all in favour of squeezing the rich until the pips squeak, but I'm not wild about breaking manifesto promises even if they're promises I disagree with. And if we're going to break the promise on tax rate, why not really go after the bastards, taxing them at 60% which'd just about raise enough for £4bn to meet the child poverty targets.

 
At 12:20 am , Anonymous Ben said...

Chaps, I don't wish to piss on the pink-ish-tinged parade (I am particularly amused at the Telegraph view that this is tantamount to declaring the dictatorship of the proletariat next Thursday), but is it really necessary to regard those who have in many cases worked very hard and contribute enormous amounts of money to the exchequer (whether at 40%, 45% or 50%) as engaging in the sort of mildly anti-social behaviour that might engender an ASBO, say? There's nothing intrinsically dreadful about wanting to have nice holidays and live in a big house.

Not that I want to dampen down the 70s revival or anything.

I am quite agnostic on the new rate, but must admit to a certain intake of breath on hearing it. I suspect it is politically relatively astute, however, and is hardly the end of new Labour, as the Cameroons seem keen to suggest.

 
At 9:08 am , Blogger Vino S said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 9:11 am , Blogger Vino S said...

I don't think that higher-rate taxpayers are engaging in anti-social behaviour ;) However, evading or avoiding tax is anti-social as it is effectively stealing money from the public services. I do think that the Government should work on things like a 'generalised anti-avoidance rule', as i think its called, to try and ensure that those who are anti-socially inclined don't escape paying the taxes that are necessary to (a) fund our public sector; (b) control the deficit.

I do think that some of the articles in the Torygraph and the other right-wing papers have been hysterical. Interestingly, this view is not shared by their readers. Polls do show most people back the new 50% rate. There is a public desire for social justice, especially in a situation where the actions of some in the finance sector have plunged us into the worst recession since the 30s.

It is particularly funny that the Right are attacking a top rate of 50%. After all, for the first 9yrs of the Thatcher gov (1979-88) the top rate was 60%

 
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