“It is clear to me that our priority must be to shift the balance of wealth and power in this country in favour of working people.”
By Jon trickett MP
My criteria for Jeremy Hunt’s “back to work” Budget was simple: will it make work pay, tackle insecure work and give unions the powers they need to properly defend workers?
Unfortunately, this Budget did nothing of the sort. Instead, this was a budget for well-off older professionals and big corporations.
The Tories have scrapped the pension lifetime allowance, which limited the pension savings an individual could build up over their career without having to pay additional tax to just over £1 million. This is estimated to cost the Treasury £800 million every single year into the future but it will only benefit the already very well-off.
That’s on top of the £700 million in tax-breaks for North Sea Oil exploration, in a country that has some of the lowest oil tax rates in the world. The corporation tax increase will be a drop in the ocean for the likes of BP and Shell, who together made £33 billion profits last year.
A three-month extension of the energy price guarantee of £2,500 will not stop millions more people being plunged into fuel poverty because it’s pegged at a level that is already unaffordable.
At a time when so many people are struggling with the cost of living, the government could’ve chosen to ease the tax burden for low and medium earners or to provide additional support to the poorest in society. Instead, they’ve chosen to make those with the broadest shoulders even richer.
How can it be that whilst corporate profits are booming, the OBR is still forecasting that 2022 and 2023 will see the biggest ever fall in living standards in our country’s history?
The truth is that the wealth of the country as a whole is continually increasing as we produce more goods and services. But this new wealth is all going into the pockets of the richest people.
It is clear to me that our priority must be to shift the balance of wealth and power in this country in favour of working people. To do that we must start by fixing our broken labour market so that workers have real protections and by creating a fair tax system which taxes the accumulated wealth of the richest in society and not just incomes.
But this Budget means that instead we will get more of the same. Once again the Tories have demonstrated they lead a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. The people of Britain desperately need a government which is on the side of working people.
- This article was originally published by the Wakefield Express on March 16th, 2023.
- Jon Trickett is the MP for Hemsworth and a regular contributor to Labour Outlook. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram and twitter.