Last month Theresa May announced that ‘Austerity is over!’ Her Chancellor didn’t get the memo with his lacklustre Budget that seemed like more of the same.
Southwark has experienced 8 years of Lib Dem and Tory austerity measures and I doubt many people (if any) will be able to spot much difference after today’s Budget.
- Not a penny more for our over-stretched and under-resourced police who have seen £1billion cut from their funding across London since 2010;
- A poorly funded, temporary grant scheme to try and repair 8 years of damage to funding for council social care services which have left 400,000 fewer older and disabled people able to access support compared with 2010. It will not replace even 4% of the funding cut to Southwark based on an initial estimate;
- The most expensive plaster ever known (costing over £2 billion) applied to Universal Credit to try and fix the unfixable. The Government is u-turning on part of its cuts affecting working people but is still leaving thousands of people worse off, including people in work and disabled people. Universal Credit needs halting and overhauling. It costs more than the previous system, is too complex to deliver and DWP cannot evidence if it is getting anyone into work;
- Limited news on housing after 8 years of growing homelessness, falling home ownership and a slump in genuinely affordable housebuilding schemes; and
- No information on Brexit when the biggest boost available to the UK economy would be a commitment to (at least) stay in the single market and/or customs union. Brexit is costing £200 million a week already and the Chancellor admitted he may have to make new announcements if the damage continues so there could be more cuts ahead sadly.
The Government strategy today appeared to be one of obfuscation: old money being re-announced spun to sound like change; and a pothole fund to try and cover up years of damage to infrastructure and council funding. It is a pathetic attempt to distract from the real damage 8 years of austerity and Coalition and current Tory measures have done to the UK economy and prospects.