After Philip Hammond finished his autumn budget statement on Wednesday 22 November, it was down to Laura Kuenssberg to give her analysis on the BBC‘s Daily Politics programme. And even she couldn’t hide her disdain for what she called a ‘sticking plaster’ of economic and fiscal measures.
Kuenssberg said [0:02] that, in the budget, the government was:
trying to stick a plaster on some of the problems that the government has had. So whether that’s Universal Credit, calls for more money urgently required for the NHS… and on housing… [which] is really the crisis of our time…
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She went on to say [0:47]:
But I think it will be difficult in the coming days for the government to escape the rather more grim economic picture…
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Bang on about the budget
And Kuenssberg’s ‘sticking plaster’ analogy is not far off the mark. Because the reality of Hammond’s budget is that there is little in there to help the many people struggling in the UK. For example, the government is going to:
- Abolish Stamp Duty for first time buyers on homes up to £300,000. But it made very few pledges about social housing, offering £400m for council estate “regeneration”.
- Freeze tax rates on all alcohol except “cheap” white cider; effectively putting a tax rise on the poorest people.
- Increase the National Living Wage to £7.83 an hour in April 2018. But this is still short of the £8.75 that the Living Wage Foundation believes the real “Living Wage” should be.
- Put an extra £1.5bn into Universal Credit. But meanwhile, benefit rates are still frozen at 2015 levels until 2019/20.
- Give the NHS an “extra” £2.8bn. But this is still short of the minimum £4bn a year extra experts say the health service needs.
Kuenssberg may describe Hammond’s budget as a sticking plaster on some of his government’s problems. But for many, it will feel like the Tories are putting a sticking plaster on a broken leg; a plaster that will fall off very quickly.
– Read more from The Canary on the autumn budget.
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