Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s devastating Budget cuts mean families and small business owners are looking at financial oblivion, with millions facing Christmas being cancelled under a new era of Tory austerity, the Scottish Greens said.
Higher costs on food and drink caused by Brexit and double-digit inflation, a surge in energy costs to an average of £3,000 per household and confirmation the UK is in recession will wreak untold misery they say.
While placing the burden of paying for Tory economic vandalism on the public, the Chancellor refused to close the loophole which gives energy giants like BP and Shell a 91% relief from the windfall tax for every pound they spend on extracting more oil and gas.
He has also kept the Truss-era policy of lifting the cap on bankers' bonuses, took no action against the ‘non-dom’ tax avoidance system used by super-rich individuals including the Prime Minister’s wife and refused to apply VAT on private school fees despite admitting that this would have raised £1.7billion.
Scottish Green finance spokesperson Ross Greer said:
“In a single speech Jeremy Hunt has evoked the ghost of Christmas past.
“There is nothing compassionate about this Tory government or its economic vision. Hunt has succeeded only in returning the UK to the Victorian era when families were allowed to go hungry, homelessness was rife and poverty caused death and devastation.
“This Westminster Budget is once again about the haves and the have nots, as another Tory government and its Scrooge new Chancellor shamelessly look to protect their rich mates and fill their own coffers to make up for their mishandling of the economy.
“The UK remains a tax haven for the super-wealthy and corporations when they should be the ones bearing the brunt of these Tory misadventures. Instead we are seeing stealth and outright cuts to benefits, wages and essential public services.
“Just today the OBR showed the UK is already in recession and that the economy is on course to shrink by 1.4% next year. By 2024 they tell us unemployment will rise to 4.9% because of this shambles at Westminster.
“This will have a terrible impact on Scotland and our public finances, no matter what the Tories try to claim. Tory triggered inflation has already wiped £1.7bn off the Scottish Budget this year alone.
“Our funding needs to be inflation-proofed at absolute minimum and then increased in real terms so that we can properly support the most vulnerable through this Tory crisis.
"Hunt’s budget has confirmed once again though that only with the powers of independence will we be able to get ourselves out of this nightmare of Westminster’s making. Until then, we will do everything we can to help those who need it but we’ll be doing it with one hand tied behind our back by a Tory government Scotland did not vote for.
“There is nothing credible in what the Chancellor had to say. This crisis is the result of 12 years of economic failure under the Tories. A failure that Jeremy Hunt played a central role in as part of the Cabinet that inflicted cuts and austerity.
“The situation could not be more urgent. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation tells us seven million households have missed out on essentials like food, heating, toiletries and showers because they couldn’t afford it.
“We have watched the retail and hospitality sectors, which should be booming at this time of year, being left with empty tables and forced to start their sales early to try and encourage people through the door.
“Weather forecasters tell us the first snow of winter is likely to arrive this weekend. How will people be able to afford to heat and eat after this? Jeremey Hunt has ensured Christmas is cancelled for millions.
“Hunt’s limits on borrowing confirm that this is a budget built on yet more Tory austerity. You cannot cut your way to a fairer and more prosperous economy for everyone, but for the second time in a decade that’s what the Tories intend to do.
“They have failed the people, they have failed the planet. They have failed us all.”