“There was little for those excluded for Government pandemic support schemes for so long, little to invest in crisis hit public services & little to support those in financial insecurity facing every increasing mountains of debt they may never escape from.”Rebecca Long Bailey MP.
By the Labour Assembly Against Austerity Team
Socialist MPs, trade unions and others have responded to Rishi Sunak’s Budget today with warnings that it does little to address the fundamental challenges we face, and that a real transformation of our economy – based on massive investment including a Green New Deal – is what we must be arguing for to protect health, jobs, livelihoods and the planet in the years ahead.
Speaking to Labour Outlook, Rebecca Long Bailey MP said, “The budget was a as vacuous and brief as it sounded. There was little for those excluded for Government pandemic support schemes for so long, little to invest in crisis hit public services and little to support those in financial insecurity facing every increasing mountains of debt they may never escape from.
Rebecca added, “Worse still was the paltry offering to tackle one of our most existential threats: climate change. Policies such as only 12bn for an Investment Bank, shiny retail savings products and some distant report into carbon offsetting in the city of London will not meet our net zero targets and spur on a Green Industrial Revolution.”
She concluded, “If the Government was in any way serious about tackling climate change, they would grab the opportunity to reverse decades of deindustrialisation, with a bold green regional investment strategy creating hundreds of thousands of new well paid jobs with it. They would use this pivotal COP 26 budget to sufficiently fast track new industries and spur a global ‘green race’ in the manufacture and roll out of green technologies across the world. The ideas are there, we developed them, so instead of just stealing our tag line I wish they would steal the policies to honour it.”
This latter theme of stealing rhetoric but not developing real policies for change was developed by former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP who said, “Sunak steals my rhetoric but no substance. Working people hit by income tax rise as thresholds frozen, council tax rise, pay freeze for public sector workers, cliff edge cut in Universal Credit in months, nothing for disabled on legacy benefits and over 2 million still excluded.”
Other MPs also joined the chorus of voices demanding real action on poverty and inequality, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who also raised the issue of the Tories’ continued refusal to raise the level of Statutory Sick Pay.
Claudia Webbe MP added to these concerns, saying that “no amount of trickery can conceal that this budget attacks the poorest.”
Fellow MP Bell Ribeiro Addy took Rishi Sunak to task on Twitter for his astonishing claim that “The poorest have benefited most from the measures we have taken.”
Trade unions including Unite also drew attention to the failure to deliver the pay rise needed for millions of public sector workers.
This was a theme developed by Labour NEC member Nadia Jama, who speaking to Labour Outlook said, we saw the same old Tories with “Nothing in this budget for public sector workers, no increase to statutory sick pay, and nothing for our NHS,” adding that additionally “The temporary extension of the £20 universal credit allowance, doesn’t go far enough to support families almost a year on from the start of this pandemic.”
Reflecting on debates in the Labour Party this week she added, “As expected the Tories make the popular move to increase corporation tax to 25% – our 2019 manifesto called for a 27% rise – the conditions of the pandemic & profits made by corporations make our previous call even more of a necessity. Labour have been on the wrong side of this argument for the last week.”
We agree with Nadia’s final word – it’s “time to be bolder with our demands & opposition.”