George Osborne’s Budget is obviously designed to get the Tories elected in May and is more notable for what it doesn’t say than what it does. There are subsidies for first time home buyers and next year the personal tax allowance goes up by £200. Income from savings of up to £1000 will be tax free.
The effect on most people will be small, as little as the penny off the price of a pint. If you don’t earn much you won’t beneﬁt much and few get anything close to £1000 from their savings. The help-to-buy ISA will simply add to the competition for houses and is likely to push up prices.
Not mentioned are the continuing cuts to government spending, cuts to local services, as well as to pay and pensions in the public sector and outsourced companies.
Not only will these be bigger than anything seen over the past ﬁve years Osborne’s pretence that “the sun is starting to shine” is as phoney as his smile. Insecure, short term and badly paid jobs are now the norm for the indebted young and the not-so-young. More food banks will open. Targets for shifting people off beneﬁts will be tightened and encouragement into dubious self employment increased. We will have to work longer to get to our shrunken pensions. In the meantime fraud and deception by the banks is uncovered but no-one goes to jail and bankers get bonuses. The sun is shining ever more brightly on the rich. George didn’t mention that.
George Doesn’t Care
Spending cuts matter because they mean cuts to the most vulnerable. In order to save £11.5m Suffolk County Council sold its care homes, including Blyford and Stradbroke Court in Lowestoft, to private equity company CareUK.
After delays and forced closures CareUK has opened new homes including Britten Court in Lowestoft. As we predicted the majority of experienced staff have left, training has been downgraded and new staff are paid up to £2 per hour less. Residents and staff will pay for these cuts and CareUK will proﬁt.
The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, which deals with patients with mental health issues, faces additional cuts of £44m over ﬁve years, has suffered botched reorganisations, a failed attempt at semi-privatisation is now in “special measures”. |ts Chief Executive had his pay bumped up by 35% when he joined; average staff salaries have shrunk by 18% in three years.
This year Suffolk County Council has cut another £38m from its services. Cuts include £5m from older peoples services, £5.1m from Children’s and Young People’s Budget and £4.1m from Health and Social Care. The County is rapidly divesting itself even of our schools.
So why is George smirking?