Has anybody taken the prime minister to one side and explained the Budget to him in words he can understand?
I thought not.
The problem with everything Rishi Sunak said in his speech is that we must not believe a word of it.
He’ll be lying about it for months to come. So will Boris Johnson and any other government minister who gets the chance – just as they have been lying about all their political decisions since the last Budget.
It doesn’t matter how high he says inflation is going to get because it will probably be worse than his prediction.
He said the supply chain crisis caused by his government’s absolute thudding Brexit inadequacy “will take months to ease”? He probably means it never will.
He predicted that the economy will return to pre-Covid levels “at the turn of the year”. For whom? Not for those who have died, I feel sure. Nor for the poor, who are being squeezed dry by his tax increases and wage cuts.
Another prediction: the economy will grow by six per cent next year. We’ve heard all this before, haven’t we? George Osborne was always banging on about how the economy would improve – and how the deficit would reduce… and he was wrong every single time.
Sunak mentioned “underlying debt”, which he said would increase for a few years before starting to come down. Yeah, Osborne used to say that, too. Funny how it’s still increasing, six years after he left Parliament.
Total government spending is to increase by £150 billion, which seems good. But how much of an increase is actually needed, not only to maintain service, but to improve them? He didn’t say.
He said spending on healthcare would rise by £44 billion. Again, how much is actually needed? He didn’t say. And how much is going to the private health parasites the Tories have allowed to infest the English NHS since 2010, to be lost in the bank accounts of their shareholders? He didn’t say.
He did say England would get 40 new hospitals (again) and 50,000 more nurses (again). Perhaps he’s just hoping that if he keeps saying it, it might magically happen one day, of its own accord.
He said local authorities would receive £4.8 billion for social care – but over the next three years. That’s what they say when the actual annual figure is flaccid. And will it be ring-fenced? How much will local government receive to maintain and improve services? Oh, right – he didn’t say.
He said the Budget funds an “ambition” to recruit 20,000 new police officers. But former Home Secretary Theresa May got rid of more than that number, didn’t she? And natural wastage means even more have been lost since she did it. So we’re being asked to face the Tory crimewave with fewer police than ever.
He promised programmes to tackle neighbourhood crime, reoffending, county lines crimes, violence against women and girls, victims’ services, and an improved response to rape cases. If you think any of these will amount to anything at all, then you haven’t been paying attention.
And he said £3.8 billion would be spent on the largest prison-building programme in a generation. Because those prisons can be cash cows for private firms. And of course, no money will be spent on programmes to ensure people don’t commit crimes. There’s no profit in it.
He said he was setting aside £11.8 billion to build 180,000 affordable homes – but has his government ever hit a target it has set for such home-building? I’ll give you a clue: no. The last target was 300,000 a year, so this is a significant reduction – not an increase.
In comparison with the £11.8 billion that is unlikely to be spent, consider the £640 million a year set aside to help people who are homeless and/or sleep rough. If those figures were reversed, he might actually do some good.
He’ll spend £5 billion removing unsafe cladding from buildings, partly using money from a residential property developers’ tax. And he’ll replace it with what? This is a meaningless gesture if residents are left in buildings that are poorly-insulated. Sunak could benefit from talks with Insulate Britain but of course he won’t consider doing anything that sensible.
He announced a £46 billion investment in the railways. Shouldn’t the private rail companies be spending this money from their profits? That’s why the railways were sold off, back in the 1990s, wasn’t it? So we wouldn’t have to spend public cash on the rail system?
On education, he said he wants to restore per-pupil funding to 2010 levels. Wouldn’t it be better for him to restore that funding to the level they would have reached this year, if not for persistent, toxic Tory cuts since 2010?
Businesses will enjoy massive tax cuts. People won’t.
The minimum wage (“National Living Wage”! Ha!) will rise to £9.50 per hour – all of which will be lost to higher taxes (previously announced by Sunak) and inflation. Employees will be worse-off.
And the Universal Credit taper rate is being adjusted from 63 per cent to 55 per cent, meaning for every pound earned by working claimants, their UC award will be reduced by 55p instead of 63p. For someone on the minimum wage, that’s worth around £28 per week and – yes – it will be swallowed up in taxes and inflation.
Sunak shot his government’s climate change credibility in the foot by announcing a reduction in taxes for air passengers, making this hugely polluting form of travel cheaper.
The whole Budget is ridiculous.
Sunak went into a big rant at the end about building a stronger economy for the British people. You can always tell that even they don’t believe their claptrap when they’re couching it with such a lot of hyperbole.
It boils down to: “More for the rich and less for you, but I’ve said it in a way that means you won’t realise it, ha ha ha!”
You’re not stupid enough to fall for that, of course.
What about your Tory-voting next-door-neighbour?
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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