The Chancellor has been, once again, forced to cut the UK’s growth forecast during his budget statement despite claiming the economy is strong.
The statement included:
• An extra £3 billion contingency fund as Brexit uncertainty grows
• A climb down on plans to cut the VAT threshold for small businesses and the self-employed
• An extra £2.8 billion for the NHS over 2 years, well short of the emergency £4 billion NHS bosses say is needed now
• Rise in the minimum wage from £7.50 to £7.83 an hour from April 2018, substantially less than the real living wage of £8.75
• Universal Credit waiting time cut by just 1 week, leaving hundreds of families in Birmingham facing Christmas without any payments
• Devolution deal for West Midlands Combined authority but no detail yet
Commenting on the Autumn Budget, Steve McCabe MP (Birmingham Selly Oak) said:
“We have a Chancellor hemmed in on all fronts, desperately hoping his budget will last through the weekend. In the meantime our police are telling us they are close to breaking point, our headteachers say they are facing a budget crisis, our social care system is on the brink of collapse and the Chancellor’s main concern is avoiding the knives being wielded by his own side.”
“The rise in the minimum wage does not go far enough to help those people in my constituency on the lowest wages and reducing the wait for Universal Credit by just 1 week will not help the most vulnerable people and families in Birmingham facing Christmas without any payment.
“Economic growth forecasts have been cut and billions more set aside because of Brexit uncertainties but nothing has been done to ease the cost of living crisis. This was a budget from a Chancellor on borrowed time juggling to keep the tory ship afloat. I wonder if he’ll need a life raft by the weekend”