Recent big news was the UK Chancellor’s Budget and the Tory Government announcement that austerity is over. Make no mistake, the tax cuts announced by the Tory Government benefit the top earners far more than they benefit those on more modest incomes and, as usual, it is the poorest in our communities who continue to carry the burden of austerity. Austerity is certainly over for the richest who got a generous tax cut from the Chancellor to take their minds off the Tory Brexit fiasco, but it’s not over for those who are struggling.
Not long ago the UK Prime Minister was lecturing on no “magic money tree” and how austerity was essential. The Westminster Government won’t raid the coffers when people in need are forced to use foodbanks to feed their families and are struggling to keep a roof over their head - the Tory Chancellor is holding £15 billion in reserve for a rainy day. Nevertheless, it’s a different story for the better off when the Tory Party needs support.
We’ve come to expect no better from the Tories but Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell stunned members of his own Labour Party by proclaiming Labour support for Tory tax cuts. Mr McDonnell declared “We’re not going to take money out of people’s pockets, simple as that.” this despite figures from the Resolution Foundation showing that changes to tax and benefits since 2015 mean the better-off gain £390 and those on lower incomes lose £400.
The Resolution Foundation analysis of the Budget found that more than three quarters of the Tory Government’s proposed £12billion in welfare cuts is still Government policy so will still feature in their plans for the future.
In Scotland, the SNP Government take a different approach by asking those who have more, to pay a little more, so that we can support NHS Scotland, (which is consistently, and by far, the best performing NHS in the UK), so that we can plug the £400 million gap left by the Tory cuts to welfare and so that we can support our public services to make Scotland a better place to live for everyone.
The Tory Chancellor boasts that Scotland is getting “extra” money in the Budget, but he doesn’t admit the Tories have cut Scotland’s budget by nearly £2 billion since the financial year 2010/11 leaving less to spend in real terms today than we had in 2011. The Tories would rather give tax cuts to their supporters than sort out the shambles of Universal Credit, invest in public services, grow the economy or boost living standards and the Labour Party, the official opposition, meekly accept it.