Scottish Green Party Co-convenor, Patrick Harvie MSP, has slammed today’s emergency budget after Chancellor George Osborne announced details including cuts to welfare, tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy, and a focus on increased defence spending year-on-year.
Seen in isolation a mandatory living wage will benefit many, but Greens pointed to the welfare cuts which will leave people in working poverty no better off, and to corporate tax cuts which simply represent a different way of subsiding the wage bill of big business.
Conservatives plan to raise the inheritance tax threshold for the very wealthy, while cutting the household benefit cap – in spite of warnings that more than 40,000 children could be plunged into poverty as a result, with thousands more families likely to face eviction. Corporation tax rates that currently stand at 20% are set to be cut to 19% by 2017 and 18% by 2020.
“This budget confirms the Conservative Party’s ruthless disregard for the wellbeing of the majority, as they recklessly pursue an unjust mission to decimate our welfare state and public services. The rise in the inheritance tax threshold will benefit just the wealthiest, at a time when we’re seeing swingeing cuts to welfare hit the most vulnerable in society hardest.
“The living wage commitment is still less than the Green election proposal of £10 per hour by 2020, and against the backdrop of the attack on welfare, it’s clear that Osborne is giving with one hand and taking away with the other. In the context of £4.5bn cuts to tax credits this policy is clearly not a real Living Wage, it is a sleight of hand, to distract from the corporate tax cuts to the very businesses which have created so much working poverty.
“This Government’s ideological obsession with welfare cuts will plunge thousands more people into poverty, and I’m deeply concerned that we will now inevitably see a steep rise in the numbers facing needless hardship, while the services they rely upon also struggle from financial pressures and lack of support.
“We see yet more reckless, short-term policies that put the profits of multinational companies over the public interest, with more talk of ‘security’ purely in terms of a Cold War-era mind set.
“Food scarcity, insecure employment and climate change are among the threats that people in the UK and abroad face in their daily lives, and our priority must be to ensure the genuine security of those whom governments have a responsibility to protect.
“Today’s announcements can only send the UK further in completely the wrong direction, away from the more equal and sustainable society we need. The details make devastating reading when considering the pain already felt in communities across the UK, and the absolute lack of any action from this Government to finally face up to their climate change responsibilities."