John Knight Green Party
THIS month’s cruel and counterproductive budget is dire news for people in Britain and a serious blow to the Conservative Government’s already stained record on climate change.
The welfare cuts announced will plunge thousands of people into poverty, and cause families to be evicted from their homes, while the plan to raise the inheritance tax threshold will, according to the Treasury’s own analysis, benefit high income and wealthy households. Thousands of Maxonians are set to face needless hardship as this Government continues its economically illiterate and utterly unjust mission to hack away at our welfare state and public services. Labour continues to offer no effective opposition, with their leader endorsing the lowering of the benefits cap, betraying the many people in Britain who are struggling to get by.
The announcement of a ‘National Living Wage’ of £7.20 an hour from next April – rising to £9.00 in 2020 – is a step in the right direction (and more than Labour were promising), but calling it a Living Wage doesn’t make it one; the Living Wage Foundation calculates that £7.85 an hour (outside London) should be the bare minimum. Worse, by leaving out the under-25s, millions will be condemned to remain on poverty wages.
There is an enormous climate-shaped hole in this budget. Ministers know that climate change presents a huge threat to our economy and national security - not just to public health and our environment. Yet George Osborne has refused to change direction and, in axing the climate-change levy exemption for renewable electricity and committing to further funding for road building, he is putting progress on climate change in jeopardy. We have seen yet another example of reckless short-term policy making that prioritises the profits of polluters over the public interest in a safe and habitable climate.