On Wednesday afternoon, Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, presented his budget to Parliament.
Isle of Wight Conservative MP, Bob Seely, is reported as having said on IW Radio he’s “very happy” about the budget, claiming it’s “good for the Isle of Wight”.
Isle of Wight opposition politicians have shared their views of his words and the budget.
Island MP is “out of touch and out of his depth”
Isle of Wight Green Party have challenged that claim, with Vix Lowthion, leader of the Isle of Wight Greens, saying,
“The budget says nothing about government further investment in renewable energy – most importantly for the Island, nothing about solar or tidal power. Additional tax breaks given for oil and gas exploration – when there are licences granted at Arreton and Compton to drill for oil. And the chancellor announced £3 billion extra needed to fund Brexit – instead of going to our NHS and helping the most vulnerable in our community.
“By fully supporting such a budget our MP is increasingly demonstrating he is out of touch, out of time and out of his depth.”
Labour: “An empty budget from a shambolic government”
The Isle of Wight Labour Party have condemned what they call “yet another missed opportunity to address some of the problems facing the Island and the country”.
They say the chancellor “appears to have looked at the various problems affecting our economy, and decided that it’s not his job to do anything about those problems except make them worse”.
- In the midst of a chronic housing shortage he has cut Stamp Duty, which the Office of Budget Responsibility notes will push up house prices even further out of reach of first time buyers.
- When real incomes have fallen for the longest period since records began, he insists they must fall further, with a continued public sector wage squeeze likely to mean further real-terms losses well into the next decade.
- We have an economy with chronic levels of low pay in insecure jobs, which particularly affects the Island, yet the Chancellor decided that he would give a bigger tax cut to top-rate taxpayers than those at the bottom.
- Our public services are in crisis due to Tory cuts, with the results clear to Island parents, those in need of social care, and patients at St Mary’s hospital; yet Hammond offers far less than either NHS bosses or headteachers have said is essential just to manage the ongoing crisis, with less than half the cash needed by the NHS being made available.
- Despite the pain this Government is wilfully inflicting on the country and the Island, growth predictions for the UK are now lower than any other European country, and the lowest since the Office for Budget responsibility was created.
Critchley: “Only people benefitting from austerity are very richest”
Island Labour Parliamentary Spokesperson, Julian Critchley, said,
“In my view this is a dereliction of duty by this government. More pain, no gain, and nothing but more cuts for the Island’s economy. This is a budget which will see further NHS services cut on the Island and moved to the mainland. It’s a budget which will see class sizes rise in Island schools while AET executives continue to pocket huge salaries. It’s a budget which will make it even harder for young Islanders to buy homes here, while wealthy second-home owners profit from stamp duty reductions.
“You don’t have to be an economist to know that over the last seven years this government has sucked demand out of the economy with its endless cuts. People whose incomes are reduced spend less in shops and businesses, who then can’t employ as many people, or pay them enough to get by, which then starts a vicious circle which we can see the results of in our high streets all over the Island.
“The austerity which the Tories have needlessly imposed upon this country is the reason why our economy is performing so badly. The only people benefitting from austerity are the very richest, whose wealth continues to rise, and who are always protected by a Conservative government.”
He went on to say,
“The foodbank is currently appealing for donations on the Island are a consequence of this budget; the anxiety of low-paid Islanders who don’t know how they’ll heat their homes this winter as Universal Credit is introduced, is a consequence of this budget; and the thousands of ordinary Island families who are going to have to cut back on Christmas to make ends meet are a consequence of this budget.
“In Parliament, Jeremy Corbyn said that this Government is not fit to govern. Based on this pathetic budget, it’s impossible to argue with that. We don’t have to accept the destruction of our public services. We don’t have to accept all but the richest becoming poorer, year after year.
“We don’t have to accept this mean-spirited, economically illiterate and downright callous vision of what our society should become. That’s why Island Labour will be out on the streets of our towns this weekend campaigning to show that it doesn’t have to be like this, and that there is an alternative, better future under a Labour government.”
Schools lacking proper funding
In October, Isle of Wight parents, teachers and children made their way to London to lobby Parliament over funding for schools.
Vix Lowthion added,
“The budget failed to mention any further investment in our Island schools – they are still facing a massive £3.4 million of cuts in the next three years.”
Belfitt: Time for MP to vote against Government
Nick Belfitt, Parliamentary Candidate of the of the Liberal Democrats, told OnTheWight,
“The budget seems an attempt by Conservatives to try and put down the growing discontent for their administration. The budget itself brings little positives to people when they can see the UK economic growth forecast being cut and people’s standard of living going down.
“On the Island we are feeling this the hardest. There is nothing in the budget for public workers, who are overworked and underpaid. Nothing for Island schools who continue struggle because of cuts.
“While we welcome the extension of the 16-25 train pass as a positive, most Islanders will not benefit from this success. Additional £6bn to a Brexit pot which continues to act as a anchor to our economy, the Island is already beginning to feel the effects of the Brexit economy Mrs May has led us down.
“The Island MP said in the election he would vote against the party in areas he thought would harm the Island, it’s time for him to do that.”
Full budget coverage
For full details of the 2017 Budget see the BBC’s budget coverage.
3.10: Comment from Nick Belfitt added
Image: © With kind permission of Allan Marsh