Socialist Campaign Group MPs slam Sunak’s budget speech

“It’s clear that for all the rhetoric on ‘levelling up’ or ‘building back better’, the Tory plan for the economy remains as it always was – defending the profits of the banks and the big businesses at the expense of both people and planet.”

By Same Browse, Streatham CLP & Arise Volunteer.

Yesterday, Rishi Sunak delivered his Autumn budget speech to parliament. The Chancellor gave the address as Universal Credit has been slashed, and inflation and cost of living soars. MPs from the Socialist Campaign Group (SCG) slammed the announcements – which included tax cuts for banks, on domestic flights, and champagne. 

Richard Burgon said ‘this was a smoke and mirrors budget: claiming the economy is thriving when millions face a cost of living crisis, talking of ending low pay while hiking taxes on those in work and cutting benefits, and pretending to level up while key services will remain far weaker than in 2010’.

Both John McDonell and Rebecca Long-Bailey highlighted that much of the spending reported in the budget had already been announced. For example, Long-Bailey argued “as far as I can tell the amounts announced today were the existing £1.7bn ‘levelling up fund’, not new money, but to level up capital spending across the country to London levels would need at least £30bn extra per year’.

Many emphasised that it failed to address the damage done by over a decade of Tory austerity, cuts to public services, and stagnating wages. As Bell Ribeiro-Addy said, “300 youth centres won’t make up for the 750 closed since 2010. 75 children’s hubs won’t make up for the 1000+ Sure Start centres closed since 2010. This budget isn’t levelling up, it’s not even levelling back”.

Apsana Begum railed against Sunak’s skewed priorities, saying  “the Chancellor has just slashed the special taxes that bankers have to pay on their profits. Instead of a wealth tax to end child poverty or homelessness, he’s choosing to protect the wealth of the super-rich. This budget does not ‘level up’, it does not even level back”.

She was joined by Zarah Sultana, who said “the richest MP in Parliament today slashed taxes for bankers while hiking taxes for workers. This is a government by – and for – the super-rich”.

Sunak claimed to be giving £2bn to those on Universal Credit by adjusting the taper from 63% to 55%, but the rhetoric rang hollow against a far bigger cut which will take £20bn from claimants across the country. John McDonell highlighted that “Sunak is forced to address the taper on Universal Credit but this helps only half the people claiming Universal Credit and only takes the level back to what was originally planned when the Tories then increased it”.

The former Shadow Chancellor added that “the biggest take away from this budget speech is the almost complete failure to address climate change. We face the existential threat of climate change and yet virtually ignored”.

Pointing to the silence on the climate emergency, Olivia Blake said “what we needed was a Green New Deal budget to address the climate and nature emergency. What we got was Rishi Sunak cutting tax on domestic flights. This chancellor is yet again failing to understand the scale of the crisis we’re in”.

It’s clear that for all the rhetoric on ‘levelling up’ or ‘building back better’, the Tory plan for the economy remains as it always was – defending the profits of the banks and the big businesses at the expense of both people and planet.  

Sunak delivers the 2020 budget. Photo credit PMP Magazine/PMP extra.

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