What the bud­get means for the city

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Front Page -

IT is a black day for Peter­bor­ough’s pub­lic sec­tor.

That is the stern mes­sage from union rep­re­sen­ta­tives for pub­lic sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions across Peter­bor­ough who fear the Govern­ment’s emer­gency bud­get will have a di­rect im­pact on jobs and front­line ser­vices in the city.

In a 55 minute speech yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, Chan­cel­lor Ge­orge Os­borne an­nounced a se­ries of cuts, freezes and in­creases to help tackle the Gov­er­ment’s fi­nan­cial deficit. They in­clude:

Ask­ing pub­lic sec­tor work­ers to ac­cept a two-year pay freeze, with pro­tec­tion for the 1.7 mil­lion pub­lic ser­vants earn­ing less than £21,000.

Those low-paid work­ers will re­ceive a flat pay-rise, worth £250, in both years.

On Jan­uary 4 next year, the main rate of VAT will rise from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent.

The VAT rise will gen­er­ate more than £13 bil­lion a year by the end of this Par­lia­ment.

Zero-rated items will re­main ex­empt from VAT over the course of this Par­lia­ment.

The small com­pa­nies’ tax rate will be cut to 20 per cent.

The Govern­ment will help low-spend­ing coun­cils in Eng­land to freeze coun­cil tax for one year, from next April.

Spokesper­son for Uni­son in Peter­bor­ough, Brian Lynch, said the bud­get was “ab­so­lutely dis­grace­ful” and said it was “shame­ful” that the Govern­ment were at­tack­ing some of the hard­est work­ing peo­ple in the coun­try.

He said: “It is also ex­tremely cow­ardly and the Govern­ment should be tar­get­ing those who put us in this mess in the first place.

“It is a black day for Peter­bor­ough. Re­search shows that of ev­ery £1 earned, 68 per cent is spent in the lo­cal com­mu­nity but peo­ple are not go­ing to be earn- ing as much, so they won’t be spend­ing as much.

“The Govern­ment can’t tar­get pub­lic sec­tor work­ers with loss of jobs and no pay rises and ex­pect there not to be a di­rect vis­i­ble im­pact on the city.”

How­ever, MP for Peter­bor­ough, Ste­wart Jack­son be­lieves the de­ci­sion to freeze pub­lic sec­tor pay was “right and fair”.

He said: “Pub­lic sec­tor work­ers have had sig­nif­i­cant pay rises over the last few years and a re­spon­si­ble govern­ment has to look at pay and pen­sions freezes as an op­tion.

“Lower paid peo­ple will be pro­tected and not dis­ad­van­taged.

“Pri­vate sec­tor work­ers have taken pay cuts and freezes and even seen their pen­sions cut com­pletely and there­fore pub­lic sec­tor work­ers can­not ex­pect to be ex­empt from this ei­ther.

“It’s only fair they make a con­tri­bu­tion.

“Ev­ery­one has to con­trib­ute – we are all in this to­gether, but we will pro­tect the most vul­ner­a­ble, in­clud­ing low in­come fam­i­lies and pen­sion­ers.”

He added that the bud­get was tough but fair and was for the long term.

He said: “This bud­get will pro­vide sta­bil­ity for the econ­omy. It is about growth, with busi­nesses tak­ing on more staff, con­tin­u­ing cap­i­tal projects and link­ing pen­sions.

“The bud­get will bring a very pos­i­tive and im­por­tant mes­sage to en­trepreneurs and busi­nesses that their job is to take on more staff and we will do ev­ery­thing we can to sup­port them and en­able them to grow.”

Spokesman for the GMB union David Shamma said: “Mem­bers in the lo­cal author­ity and all pub­lic ser­vices will be very dis­ap­pointed to learn they are get- ting a two year pay freeze.

“We have con­cerns about how these 25 per cent cuts within the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are go­ing to be made and fear that it will re­sult in job losses.

“This bud­get is go­ing to hit the poor­est hard and the poor­est mem­bers of so­ci­ety are hav­ing to pay for the brunt of what is the bankers’ mess.”

Leader of Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil Marco Cer­este said he also has con­cerns about where the 25 per cent cuts will be made within the coun­cil.

He said: “At present, I don’t know what that will mean for the peo­ple of Peter­bor­ough.”

It could take sev­eral weeks for the coun­cil to de­cide ex­actly what cuts it will make.

Spokesman for the Unite union Mick Doherty said the Govern­ment is “at­tack­ing dis­ad­van­taged groups” in so­ci­ety.

He said: “If I was a Lib­eral Demo­crat, I would hang my head in shame. In the next year to 18 months we are go­ing to lose hun­dreds of pub­lic sec­tor jobs. We will not know the full im­pli­ca­tion for Peter­bor­ough for some time.

“What we do know is that pub­lic ser­vices will be cut and jobs will go, mak­ing it a very sad day for Peter­bor­ough.”

Lib­eral Demo­crat, city councillor Nick Sand­ford, said: “The Govern­ment is try­ing to en­sure that ev­ery­body has to make a con­tri­bu­tion and those peo­ple who earn more, will have to make a higher con­tri­bu­tion.

“My worry that the Chan­cel­lor’s de­ci­sion to pro­vide busi­nesses with up to £50,000 to take on new em­ploy­ees will re­sult in busi­nesses set­ting up in ar­eas like Corby and Ket­ter­ing, be­cause Peter­bor­ough is ex­cluded from the scheme.”

MIXED RE­AC­TION: Paul Smith.

CUTS: Chan­cel­lor Ge­orge Os­borne with the RIGHT AND Ste­wart Jack­son.

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