Opinion: Budget Day, and the light at the end of tunnel

It was never going to be an easy day. No-one enjoys having to make the kind of cuts the Coalition had to yesterday, but the consequences of doing nothing would have been far worse. I recall sitting in meetings of the Lib Dem Federal Policy Committee as we were costing the manifesto, and quickly realising that even on the generous economic forecasts of the Labour Government, it would be impossible to deliver every policy that we wanted, due to the incredible mess that the public finances had become.

There are a number of things we can take from the budget, Liberal Democrat policies that couldn’t have been implemented had we taken the easy route and criticised from the safety of the opposition benches. Moving the personal tax threshold will see 880,000 people lifted out of tax altogether, and twinned with the increase in Capital Gains Tax means we are taking real steps towards creating a fairer tax system. We’ll also see our pledges on changes to Child Tax credits, a new tax on banks, and the restoration of the link between pensions and earnings implemented. For those still questioning the decision to enter coalition, ask yourselves how many of these policies would’ve been enacted had there been a Tory minority Government. I doubt a CGT increase would even have been on the table.

But there are also the bitter pills that we have to swallow. Freezing child benefit for three years has made some of us uncomfortable, and I know it will mean those receiving it will need to tighten their belts. But taxing or means testing the benefit would have had a far greater impact on those who receive it. Labour’s response to this and the changes to child tax credits has been to argue that we will worsen child poverty. I simply don’t believe this. Tax credits will be targeted at the worse off, whilst the argument misses the point that there are many more factors involved in raising people out of poverty than money. A good education is the most empowering thing you can give someone, so whilst it wasn’t mentioned today, implementing the pupil premium policy, I believe, will do more than tax credits or increasing child benefit would to improve the lives of so many children and young people.

The VAT bombshell appears to be the hardest move for Lib Dems to understand. I worry about its effects, but the increase from 15% to 17.5% was largely unnoticed, as was the VAT reduction, so I doubt this will have a large effect on individuals. And when it’s put in the context of weighing a rise in VAT against finding another £13 billion of cuts from public spending, I think the Government made the right choice.

Then we come to cutting housing benefit for JSA claimants – for me, the bitterest pill to swallow. I hope that any welfare reforms that are brought in are really geared towards making work pay in order to counter what seems to be an overly draconian measure. The raising of the personal allowance should help, and the rumoured increase to the minimum wage would also help change the balance.

The budget was far more balanced, and much more fair, than I thought it would be. Yes there are things I wish we weren’t having to do, but I can only imagine how much more draconian a purely Tory budget would be. I’m proud that the party didn’t run when there were tough decisions to be made, and didn’t shirk the huge responsibility we have to clean up the mess of the past in order to build a better, fairer future.

Elaine Bagshaw is a Liberal Democrat member in Leyton and Wanstead and former Chair of Liberal Youth.

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49 Comments

  • It certainly could have been much worse.
    I am concerned about the benefit changes because
    the Welfare system is in such need of reform.
    Despite all the money Labour supposedly poured
    into it the set up is bureacratic, wasteful, inefficient
    and inflexible.
    The budget would have been much worse if the
    Lib Dems weren’t in the coalition.
    That has to be the Liberal message combined
    with the fact that Labour would have had to
    similar if they were in.

  • David Morton 23rd Jun '10 - 2:32pm

    I note the opening sentence contains the suggestion that the alternative to this budget was ” doing nothing “. At best this is a huge non sequitur and at worst its a fairly patronising way of dismissing informed concern. I also note another outing for the now familar line that a Tory minority government would have produced an even worse budget. This may or may not be true, there are no control experiments in politics, however what is never mentioned is that by defination a Tory Minority budget wouldn’t have commanded a majority and would thus have had to compromise in some form anyway either internally before presentation or afterwards on the floor of the house. I think this needs raising everytime the straw bogeyperson of a ” Tory Minority” is raised to justify doing something marginally less worse.

  • Andre Forth 23rd Jun '10 - 2:46pm

    A list of excuses founded on a falsehood.

    “the consequences of doing nothing would have been far worse”

    “Then we come to cutting housing benefit for JSA claimants – for me, the bitterest pill to swallow. I hope that any welfare reforms that are brought in are really geared towards making work pay in order to counter what seems to be an overly draconian measure.”

    You “hope” ! You’ll excuse me if I expect an MP for a party I trusted to look after the more vulnerable members of society to do a little more than “hope” things are ok.

  • David Morton 23rd Jun '10 - 2:50pm

    The paragraph on VAT is also rather odd. A classic non sequitar is that the only alternative to the VAT rise was a further £13bn of spending cuts. Also the rather strange view that the previous VAT cut was “largely unnoticed” as was its reversal ergo another increase isn’t so bad. Apart from a failure to consider the basic concept of cumulative impact, even mention the most simplistic of criticisms of a VAT increase ie that its regressive what startles me most is the blaise tone about injections/withdrawals of £13bn in the current economic circumstances. Or a mention of the elephant that has burst its way out of the room – the explicit campaign against it the party ran in the election.

  • The poorest will lose far more from the VAT rise than they will gain from the raising of the income tax threshold. And those groups that don’t even earn enough to pay income tax will be especially badly hit by the VAT increase. Meanwhile, the wealthy will benefit greatly from the billions given away in corporation tax cuts. As the rich will benefit most when the recession is over they should be the ones bearing the main extent of the burden of the deficit now, not the poor, the low paid and their children. After this budget I cannot understand how any Lib Dem MP with an ounce of integrity can bear to sit on the same side of the House as the Tories.

  • David Morton 23rd Jun '10 - 3:16pm

    The paragraph on Child Benefit is quite disturbing. I note in passing that the impact of scrapping the Health in Pregnancy Grant and SureStart Maternity Grants for second children onwards aren’t mentioned. Indeed some people getting Child Benefit might have to “tighten their belts” however others will experience real hardship and a cliched generalisation is patronising. We then had the Victor Meldrew defence against the charge that the total package ( extra child tax credits minus everything else ) won’t worsen child poverty.

    But what really caught my eye was the linkagae between any potential increase in child poverty and the Pupil Premium. It betrays a certain sort of cognative, developmental, nutritional and psychological illiteracy to suggest that a schooling premium later on in life is somehow an effective compensation for deprivation earlier on. Cure doesn’t justify injury. It’s also a very odd view of human freedom that supporting a policy that may inhibit later freedom via developmental delay is somehow justified by state action later on to help repair that damage.

  • Andrea Gill 23rd Jun '10 - 3:31pm

    “…ask yourselves how many of these policies would’ve been enacted had there been a Tory minority Government. I doubt a CGT increase would even have been on the table.”

    LOL understatement of the year!

    Really liked John Thurso’s contribution to the post budget debate today. He mused about what he would think of the budget, were he in opposition? Answer: Angry – because he couldn’t bring himself to vote against a budget that implements so many of the Liberal Democrat values he has so recently campaigned for.

    And as a member of the Treasury Select Committee, Thurso clearly knew full well that earlier cuts would likely be needed as he had better access to the previous government’s figures

  • I’ve just realised the Tory government have made the first moves towards a Chinese-type One Child policy. That’s nice. I look forward to discovering what other policies they have that will help reduce consumption and in so doing save the planet as the long term effects will be to reduce the number of potential customers all those multi-national companies will have to entice!

    Who would have guessed the Tories adopting a communist policy!

  • Andrew Suffield 23rd Jun '10 - 3:41pm

    the explicit campaign against it the party ran in the election

    The party campaigned against a lot of Tory policies. That particular one was just exploiting right-wing twitchiness about tax raises, rather than being a representation of Lib Dem policy. Going into coalition always means accepting some of the things you campaigned against.

    The poorest will lose far more from the VAT rise than they will gain from the raising of the income tax threshold

    Citation needed.

  • Andrea Gill 23rd Jun '10 - 3:49pm

    @Dave W: “Despite all the money Labour supposedly poured into it the set up is bureacratic, wasteful, inefficient and inflexible.”

    I suspect the bloated bureaucracy is partly WHY so much money had to be poured into the system

  • Andrea Gill 23rd Jun '10 - 3:54pm

    @mma “I’ve just realised the Tory government have made the first moves towards a Chinese-type One Child policy.”

    Only giving people money for the first child has *nothing* to do with only allowing one child. The first child *is* always the most expensive, because nappies and food aside, everything you buy for the first child can easily be re-used for the second.

  • Andrea Gill 23rd Jun '10 - 4:01pm

    @David Morton “But what really caught my eye was the linkagae between any potential increase in child poverty and the Pupil Premium. It betrays a certain sort of cognative, developmental, nutritional and psychological illiteracy to suggest that a schooling premium later on in life is somehow an effective compensation for deprivation earlier on.”

    I take it you missed the bits where SureStart and other grants and services are going to be revised so as to focus largely on the poorest and those most in need, at the expense of middle income earners who currently are receiving funds they do not strictly need.

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Jun '10 - 4:11pm

    There is an argument that VAT hits the poor less than the rich because a higher proportion of the poor’s spending in on 0% or 5% VAT items. Higher VAT does catch the rich when they spend all that otherwise untaxed money from property price rises (inherited or owner-occupied).

    John Pardoe was very keen on this way back when he was contending for the leadership, and I understand the case better now than I did then.

    The cut in Housing Benefit for those on JSA I agree is hard to swallow, though in general I’m happy with a clampdown on Housing Benefit. Housing Benefit is essentially a subsidy to buy-to-let people, letting prices rise to what Housing Benefit will pay. I don’t see anything wrong with saying to people on Housing Benefit that they have to live in the cheaper part of town.

    I can bear with this budget, though it’s not what I’d be asking for if we had the controlling hand. The VAT rise in particular is a good warning signal – it could and should be thrown at anyone who moans when the next lot of tax rises come along and are predominantly on the rich e.g. CGT put up to where it should be at the same rate as income tax. Essentially it’s saying “this is serious, everyone is going to have to suffer, look at what we’ve done here, now you stop moaning and take your hit because it doesn’t make you look good if you won’t”.

    For everyone in the LibDems, apart from those who want to go down the National Liberal route, now is the time just to be grumbling enough for it to be seen we wouldn’t do this if we were governing alone or the major partner in the coalition, no more than that. We need to stick a couple of years because it really wouldn’t look good on us to show we can’t be trusted to form a reasonably stable coalition. Up the grumbling in a year’s time if we’re getting more hit-the-poor and little hit-the-rich budget stuff. In two year’s time we’re going to need to see signs that all this is getting the economy going and serving everyone (it’s not enough for any “green shoots” to be only for a few in the finance industry). If it isn’t, and we’re not getting enough of our own way in the budget in two year’s time, then we need to consider seriously pulling the rug. Nick Clegg can either join the pulling, or be on it and fall when it is pulled.

    Labour needs to consider making themselves something that would be worth joining in coalition with. It wasn’t after the election, and won’t be in the next few years unless it makes big changes. They need to see that changing the rules to allow for a vote of confidence against the government which does not necessarily lead to a dissolution means in the event of the Tories really fouling things up, an alternative coalition in the present Parliament would be a good working arrangement.

    For anyone complaining about what we have to support in this coalition, it’s no good moaning unless you have an alternative game plan. An new election in which we make massive gains is unlikely. An election in which we are slaughtered because we don’t have any alternative to the current coalition arrangement is very likely. A carefully put case that we tried with the Tories, stuck it for two years, but they wouldn’t shift our way hence the country is in a mess, might work for us. The coalition doing well and retaining support also works in a way for us – but I’m not enough of a Tory to suppose that’s a realistic scenario if the coalition sticks to being too far to the purely Tory way.

  • Elaine Bagshaw 23rd Jun '10 - 4:26pm

    I’m at work so apologies if I don’t respond as fully as some people would prefer. I also have no idea how to use the coding on here.

    “I note the opening sentence contains the suggestion that the alternative to this budget was ” doing nothing “” – It was an alternative, and one which Labour took in 1997 when it decided to continue with the previous Government’s spending plans for a certain amount of time (I forget the timeframe – I was 11).

    “what is never mentioned is that by defination a Tory Minority budget wouldn’t have commanded a majority and would thus have had to compromise in some form” – Fair enough point, although with Labour in disarray, and in all likelyhood our own party being in disarray if we hadn’t entered coalition, I think it’s likely a Tory Minority budget would’ve got through.

    “Also the rather strange view that the previous VAT cut was “largely unnoticed” as was its reversal ergo another increase isn’t so bad.” – That’s predominantly an argument against the type of “society will crumble” counter-arguments that have been flying around. An increase will have an impact on some, sadly those with lower incomes the most, but I was mainly trying to look a little differently at all the hype surrounding the announcement. We would have needed to find £13 billion in further cuts from the public sector if this hadn’t been done (either to fund alternative spending or continue to reduce the deficit). At that point we can move further into arguments about which would affect those on lower incomes more – cutting the services they are more likely to use, or upping VAT – which has an effect but can be managed more by the individual. So, you can control your own spending, but if your GP services are cut, it’s a lot harder to manage the effect that will have.

    “the explicit campaign against it the party ran in the election.” – This was always a mistake anyway, as whilst we had costed our plans so they were affordable without a VAT increase, it was clear to some that if we got in and things were worse than we’d been told, this would quickly be on the cards. Vince was also constantly challenged on the fact he refused to rule out an increase.

    “I note in passing that the impact of scrapping the Health in Pregnancy Grant and SureStart Maternity Grants for second children onwards aren’t mentioned.” – There’s a word limit and you can’t mention everything. Personally I don’t think these are useful or particularly well targeted.

    “It betrays a certain sort of cognative, developmental, nutritional and psychological illiteracy to suggest that a schooling premium later on in life is somehow an effective compensation for deprivation earlier on.” – Firstly you’ve missed my main point which is that money doesn’t solve everything. Poverty is an incredibly complex issue – Labour’s failure to lift everyone out of child poverty despite investing huge amounts of money in the mission is a testament to this. Government has no control over how child tax credits or benefits are spent – it’s wrong to assume they’re all spent in developmental ways, and on the other side of the coin I’m not assuming that no-one spends them in this way. My belief is that there needs to be a more holistic approach to tackling child poverty – that’s the crux of my point.

    “The poorest will lose far more from the VAT rise than they will gain from the raising of the income tax threshold

    Citation needed.”

    This quite interesting from the BBC:

    “The Red Book also takes a stab at combining the effect of changes to tax (including raising VAT to 20%), tax credits and benefits.

    Chart A1 (on page 66 of the Budget) reveals that from 2012, when many of the tax credit changes kick in, there will be a negative effect on all households, even the poorest.

    The lowest income groups, the bottom 30%, will lose less than £200 a year each.”

  • Elaine Bagshaw 23rd Jun '10 - 4:30pm

    Matthew posted whilst I was typing – very good argument on the VAT issue

  • David Morton 23rd Jun '10 - 4:49pm

    The paragraph on HB for JSA is also utter rubbish. On the one hand its ” the bitterest pill to swallow” and “overly draconian”. However rather than this lead to any hint of direct opposition to the cut we then have aspirations for making work pay as a “counter”. However how can measures for people in work “counter” cuts in a benefit for people out of work?

    I’ve no idea what this will save but is 10% of Housing benefit for JSA claimaints over 1 year really a signifigant ammount of money either in absolute terms or as a proportion of the HB budget. It just makes housing the long term unemployed less desirable and will squeeze some very poor peoples incomes even further if they have to top up payments. All my years of housing experience tell me its the kind of extra spike in the benefits trap that will send some poor soul some where some time over the edge by a few quid one week and into rooflessness. Which will of course cost more in the end.

    The first Lib Dem back bench rebellion of the Coalition will help shape our public identity just as much as what comes out of the front bench. I’d suggest this piece of nonsense goes on the short list.

  • David Morton 23rd Jun '10 - 5:05pm

    Andrew Suffield: of course coalition means you junk some of your policies and in a differnt way staying in opposition means you junk all of them. However we did run a very high profile campaign aimed against the Tories over a VAT rise and have now implimented a VAT rise in coalition with the Tories. IMHO its fair comment to argue that some policy concessions were less wise than others without having the “all coalitions involve compromise ” argument thrown back at you.

    Andrea Gill: I have noted the proposed changes to Surestart in general but I think that seperate from my wider stylistic point about Elaine’s article.

  • Elaine Bagshaw 23rd Jun '10 - 5:10pm

    I was looking at from a holistic point of view, and drawing on my mother’s 20+ years working in Job Centres and my own experience as a youth worker working with young people who had housing issues and were also unemployed. There are a chunk of those where making work pay will mean this is the desirable option, and by definition “making work pay” means they can afford to either make top up payments or afford their own housing outright. And I said it “seems to be overly draconian” – as always, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so we’ll see what the effects are. That was also my initial opinion – having seen more things come out since (I actually wrote the article last night, it was just put up at lunch time), I’m moving more to an opinion closer to Matthew’s that the wholesale reform of Housing Benefit is desirable.

    I’d also like to know what you would suggest we did differently. As has been said, whilst it’s easy to nitpick at the things we don’t like, unless we offer a viable alternative, our argument quickly unravels.

  • Ruth Bright 23rd Jun '10 - 5:23pm

    The Health in Pregnancy grant was at least a laudable attempt to address the problem in this country with low birth weight babies and low breastfeeding rates. It wasn’t enough but it was a start.

  • Patrick Smith 23rd Jun '10 - 5:35pm

    The most important part of the `Coalition Budget’ was the L/D led increase by £1000 rise,in the income tax allowance, now set at £7475, as from April 2011.

    It will take another 3 Coalition consecutive Budgets to increase income tax allowance to over £10K but will then consolidate tax relief for over 4 million least off tax payers.This tax relief will also greatly support family life and fight child poverty.

    The 4 year achievement over the life of this Parliament to lift out of income tax 4 million tax payers, is the stark example of a progressive taxation policy, that bears the stamp of Liberal Democrat influence and identity in this mother of necessity `Coalition Government’.

    The marking out of State Pensions to an annual increase in line with retail price index must be closely monitored to ensure that all seniors are better off.

    The setting up of the `Triple Lock’ has the hallmark of Liberal Democrat ownership but will need to be adjudicated by the OBR, over the 3/4 next years, to confirm that older people are actually better off on a monthly basis, in terms of money in their pockets.

    The raising of VAT to 20% will provide the `Coalition Government’ with £13 Billion, over 4 years but how much tax could have been found by putting a higher earners` taper and cut off point on Child Benefit and Winter Fuel Allowance?

    The `Budget’ study report on how to stabilise petrol and diesel costs for all motorists pledged is extremely important at a time of concern for private car and commercial vehicle owners as so many people are dependent on reasonable daily lowest road fuel costs.

    I support further work by the `Coalition Governmnet’ on the commissions on `Fair Taxes’ and realationship with the `Green Switch’ as this was not stated .yet.

    Ther has to be a move forward in progressive `Green Switch’ progressive taxation policy to reduce the escalating carbon footprint, by imposing for example, a new tax duty on airlines, to put a stop on flights with half empty passenger inventories,in future.

    In Leyton and Wanstead there a lot of resident concern about the increase of volume of flights across the overcrowded built up London skies in the East End.

  • David Morton 23rd Jun '10 - 5:38pm

    Elaine,
    With respect you are at it again. That’s another logical and proceedural fallacy. The current HB rules are the status quo. It’s not unreasonable to expect those advocating changing the status quo to explain their argument without resorting to ” Well what would you do then? “. HB is an income contingent benefit for the top of anyones “heirarchy of needs.” What the proposal does is say that even if those two variables haven’t changed ( Income and need for housing ) the allowance will be cut by ten percent after a year even if costs remain the same. I think proponents of this change need to either ( a) accept that this appears arbitary and ergo illiberal (b) provide a cogent philosophical reason why they think it’s not arbitary because of X. I’m genuinely willing to listen.

    With regard to ” Nit Picking ” what level of critique are you comfortable with. You make it fairly clear neigh sayers of the coalition would ” run” from or “shirk” ” tough decisions” yet picking one small area for public disagreement is ” nit picking”?

  • “I worry about its effects, but the increase from 15% to 17.5% was largely unnoticed”

    Firstly if you look at retail figures just after the VAT went back up, I think it’s pretty clear that the change did not go unnoticed.

    Secondly, the IFS seems to disagree.

    Thirdly, YOU may not have noticed. But the argument is that the poorest will.

  • The housing benefit is a hard pill to swallow – but much easier if you are not the one swallowing it but watching others do the swallowing. The assumption is that rentable properties will be available in the ‘cheaper’ part of town =- what if they are not – has this been costed. Whose going to pay moving costs – which the insecure private tenant has to do annually. Is it OK if children have to change schools. I agree that it is wrong that the money goes to buy to let landlords – but is this the way to tackle that problem. Don’t we need more social housing for people who often do vital service jobs but are excluded from ever owning their own homes – what has happened to compassion here? The risk is that you become inured to pain and think the poor must suffer for the greater good – you see them out on their bikes getting jobs. You become immune to the fact that the cabinet is made of 23 millionaire pluses. You lose sight of the ugliness of this in our democracy. You forget to ask the question of what is democracy if it can’t deliver social justice. Be careful you Lib Dems of losing your heart s as you become hard-boiled. Wielding axes is easy it is compassion that is hard .

  • The mass cull of LD Councillors next May should conentrate minds nicely.I’m afraid you are delusional if you think the sight of Clegg nodding along to Osborne’s hatchet job is anything but a disaster for the LDs in huge swathes of the country.

  • Question is who is this light at the end of the tunnel for?

    It will be for the rich in 2014/15, but very bleak for the poorest.

    Have all of us lost our compassion and only care for ourselves?Is that what we have been reduced to, only caring about our comfortable lives and damm everyone else?

    http://blogs.channel4.com/snowblog/2010/06/23/nightmare-assessment-of-the-unavoidable-budget/

  • Andrea Gill

    Only giving people money for the first child has *nothing* to do with only allowing one child. The first child *is* always the most expensive, because nappies and food aside, everything you buy for the first child can easily be re-used for the second.
    So what do you think will happen? If people can barely afford the first, then knowing the second will be even more difficult will hardly encourage them to have a second. There are loads of kids in my extended family. The shortest gap between them is 5 years, there is one gap of 11 years and another spent 13 years trying for baby number 2.

    If I spent an hour or so I’d be sure I have the correct reference, or at least suggestion to it, so not sure. I think it was on this show there were claims the effect of such disparity in benefits in the US increased the level of abortion.
    http://www.democracynow.org/1998/9/24/women_beware_big_government_is_watching. This change is the beginning of a walk on that road.

    It doesn’t matter what people claim it is about, it is the effect it will have. Just like the poll tax when suddenly whole rafts of people, poor people who tend to vote left magically disappeared. No, never suspected a thing, honest!

  • @Matthew Huntbach
    For those of us in the urban areas of the North this budget is harder to accept and support than for those of you based in more prosperous areas. People did vote for us an alternative to the policies in this Budget and somehow we will need to show that both the overall Coalition policy has been successful and that our influence has contributed and offset the worst effects. Unless we can do that we will struggle to survive in some areas, even those where we have gained important footholds.

    Your point about Labour is important but only part of the picture. Whilst we might want Labour to change to be a viable coalition partner we need to recognise that their view of us has changed. In my constituency, links were relatively good because of some joint working in campaigns and rivalry was usually friendly. However attitudes to us have changed, even liberal Labour people, supporters of PR etc have hardened against us. This is partly why I hate the language of cuts and style begun by David Laws and picked up by Nick and Danny Alexander. It makes all talk of the new politics sound bogus, a sound bite with little truth attached and strategically it has made it significantly more difficult to work with Labour in future. Nick may see a future as a permanent junior Conservative party with a liberal veneer but it would have less support and it is not a strategy I could support.

  • Why, oh why, are we, as reported on Yahoo today, planning to increase arms exports to help with the deficit? Who will we sell them to this time? Iraq? East Timor maybe? Greece and any other country where the people stand up for themselves rather than lying down to a government held ransom by the global corporations?

    Didn’t Mrs T do that as well…

  • Patrick Smith 23rd Jun '10 - 6:54pm

    SB makes a critically important point about the important application of compassion and less glibness.

    Take for example each person ‘ currently in receipt of a `Disability Living Allowance’ who must now undertake a new medical, within 3 years.This process must now be done by professionals affording individual respect to the rights and entitlements of each individual, so that that all honest vulnerable recipients, do not feel threatened are are treated fairly.

    As there are now 6 million Carers in the Caring for at least another 6 million, usually loved relatives, saving an estimated £2 Billion for the NHS if those dedicated army of daily Carers were not there-what financial support is proposed for them?

  • @ Patrick S

    All i can see is a repeat of the ‘care in the community’ policy of Mrs T now being applied to people who are the most vunerable in our society. Seems to me our modern society has no compassion or empathy for people who often through no fault of their own find themselves on the lower rungs of our society. Im beginnig to understand Mr Camerons big idea of ‘The Big Society’ I think it used to be called charity for the deserving poor. We should all be very proud of our ability to NOT learn from history though we have learned one thing from Mrs T ‘ I’m alright Jack’.

  • @ Patrick S

    Carers save our society approx 87B @ yr.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7001160.stm

  • janep
    People do not care. They simply don’t give two hoots about anyone else. This country has changed over the past twenty years to a place my grandparents simply would not recognize. Even the pensioners on the bus at lunch time were complaining about how they should get while the unemployed shouldn’t – because they earned it No one seemed to notice the unemployed are being denied the chance to earn their pensioner benefits. Isn’t a state pension something like 120 pounds? Well if pensioners need help with bus fares then why wouldn’t the unemployed on just half that? The cheapest weekly ticket here is over 16 pounds now.

    AlexKN
    It makes all talk of the new politics sound bogus
    It sounds bogus because it is bogus.
    I knew how my part of the world would vote. The people around here have very long memories. The Tories have been unelectable here for decades for a reason. Lib Dems should now consider themselves to be firmly in the same category. The bankers gambled and the ordinary people will be homeless as a result. That is no more than a bogus kind if fair, so much so a child would easily recognise it as nonsense.

    We will now have people stealing in order to pay their rent. We will now have decent people forced to work under the table just to keep a single room warm in the winter. And we will criminilise them for it. Has the vagrancy laws been repealed, any local regulations banning begging? Will more women be forced into prostitution? Unite estimated a single person should be receiving something like 110 instead of what was 64 pounds last year in order that they can meet their basic needs.

    If the rich really believed in austerity, in paying of the national debt, that we are all in it together, and that anyone can make it big time if they work hard enough, then why don’t they hand over every penny they have to help out? Surely it wouldn’t be too long for the talented to be back where they started after having completed their own share of suffering? They can inflict it on others easily enough…

    I am so ashamed. We have begun the walk away from intellect, civilization and decency.

  • @ mma

    totally agree with you mma

    Whats is broken in this society is our contempt for our fellow human beings.

  • Elaine Bagshaw 23rd Jun '10 - 7:52pm

    No, asking what people would do differently is a genuine question as that is how, if you think the budget was fair enough or progressive enough, you can lobby to have the policy changed. Now that we’re in Government we have to find the best way to deliver on our principles, within the parameters and boundaries of coalition and the economic situation. The party shouldn’t lose the dynamic it’s always had of looking at all of the alternative solutions to a situation and thrashing out what we think the best option will be.

  • Andrew Suffield 23rd Jun '10 - 8:13pm

    Your citation

    http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/06/budget-2010-regressive-not-%E2%80%9Cprogressive%E2%80%9D-whichever-way-you-look-at-it/

    This link clearly shows an n-shaped curve, with the richest paying slightly more than the poorest. That’s not regressive or progressive. It’s so unusual that we don’t have a trite political epithet for it.

  • Do we have the time to thrash these questions out ?
    Or will the damage alredy be irrevocable?
    Once people really understand what is happening and after the review in October i fear it will be to late to undo the damage. We can point out the differences, show how our policies have tempered the Tories but after this Budget and the full implications begin to be felt, I fear the general public will see very little difference between the Liberal Democrats and the Tories.
    All this to get AV? Im not sure the price is worth paying.
    I remember how the general public tolerated Mrs T slow destruction of the welfare state but eventually even they took to the streets. How long will it take this time?

  • Matthew Huntbach – “The cut in Housing Benefit for those on JSA I agree is hard to swallow, though in general I’m happy with a clampdown on Housing Benefit. Housing Benefit is essentially a subsidy to buy-to-let people, letting prices rise to what Housing Benefit will pay. I don’t see anything wrong with saying to people on Housing Benefit that they have to live in the cheaper part of town.”

    Well if it really is purely an incentive for buy to let people to increase rents, why not target landlords directly? I can absolutly guarantee you that buy to let landlords aren’t going to immediately cut their rents because this nice, caring, genteel even, Lib Dem Con government are going to cut housing benefit. What you will see is increased bureaucracy to implement the new measures and more homeless people. Sorry Matthew, that is the direct consequence of these measures, not a reining in of buy to let landlords. In fact, that could have been achieved by implementing one of the Lib Dems policies of increasing CGT, rather than just increase it by a small amount for the rich.

    But no, Lib Dems vainly in search of ambition, career and a few small crumbs for themselves have sold ALL of their principles.

    Sorry, you have no mandate and you have no shame. You are as bad as the Tories. Heartless, uncaring spongers. To think I almost voted for you, take it from me, most people who did vote for you didn’t vote for this.

  • O dear is this really a fair budget, I think not. The very poorest in our society, the unemployed, the disabled and the single mothers are being targetted. I know the benefits system is peculiarly designed to ‘discourage’ work, is that fault of the system or the fact that wages are too low. Are there any jobs out there anyway, with something like 5 million people ‘economically inactive’, the government living in a media fantasy land, most of the people who are currently inactive will probably remain so for the rest of their lives. We appear to be returning to the Victorian age for our definition of fairness, we can be fair to the ‘the deserving poor’ those in work in low paid jobs but pay no attention to the undeserving amongst us. I really think this is not the Liberal party I want to be part of, the Tories and Dave believe in the ‘Big Society’, charity caring for the ‘under class’. It was the Liberal governments between 1906 and 1914 that began the foundations of the welfare state, it was Beveridge, another liberal who declared war on the Great Evils of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness, I believe this goverment is in danger of surrendering our progress in fighting the war.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 23rd Jun '10 - 10:24pm

    “That’s not regressive or progressive. It’s so unusual that we don’t have a trite political epithet for it.”

    This manoeuvring starts to look rather desperate.

    The IFS doesn’t find it so difficult to call a spade a spade. They say it is “likely that overall impact of yesterday’s measures was regressive.”
    http://www.ifs.org.uk/budgets/budgetjune2010/browne.pdf

  • Its shameless vote buying – they know the poor won’t vote for them but they want the 7th and 8th decile. This is new labour’s worcester woman and mondeo man. Hang the poor and the super rich they do alright through tax avoidance, etc. Its shameful and has nothing to do with fairness. Who knows what impacts this will have – but this is no skilled surgeon’s knife influence.

  • Foregone Conclusion 23rd Jun '10 - 10:59pm

    Simon, if it’s vote buying, it’s the least successful attempt in history. Just look at all the people queueing up to say that they’ll never vote for us again…

  • I’ve just been listening to a speech given by Prof Michael Eric Dsyon. In it he claims 5 million jobs were lost as the US entered what Americans call the post industrial urban era in the early 1990s. At the same time, one of the top ten job creation industries was prison guards and security guards. So decent jobs were being destroyed while prisons were being built at a faster rate than ever before, to house the growing number of people turning to crime in order to survive. Once in prison, the people found jobs, not paying the minimum wage but between 30 cents and 2 dollars fifteen doing work that used to pay decent wages. I heard a rumour that in some US States, prisoners are handed a bill for their board and keep on their release!

    In 1999 Elissa Silverman, Associate Editor for the City Paper in Washington, DC wrote an investigative report, “Bombs Away” about Lockheed Martin’s involvement in a welfare-to-work program and parking collection program. In order to receive benefits the recipients had to put up traffic cameras. They got a welfare check. The company apparently got 32 dollars for every ticket issued when the cameras where triggered.

    When you cut benefits, this is what will happen.

    The Lib Dems surely understand this. The Lib Dem MPs know exactly what road they are walking on.

    Put your arm into the unguarded machine or else I’ll fire you. Don’t complain or I’ll fire you. Expect to work only 12 hours a day and I’ll fire you. Don’t ask for a fire safety certificate or I’ll fire you. And then what will you do? You’ll be out on the street begging and stealing! And then you’ll be in jail where you will work for 30p an hour. instead of the illegal two quid I am offering.

    Thinking I am being over-dramatic? I’ve a friend who has just been handed a new contract to sign. He’s been in the same job for about seven years and now it is all change. He will be required to be available two hours before his 12 hour shift begins and for two additional hours at the end. His contract now says he will be expected to travel home, go to sleep, eat and be back at work in 8 hours. No allowances will be given for medical appointments or any other business. Is that OK? He is a long distance lorry-driver working for a very large retailer here in the UK. The whole crew tore it up and walked out this morning He is busy packing up his flat and heading abroad within the month. He isn’t waiting on the union sorting this one out, and he certainly isn’t prepared to stay in this country any longer than he has to. He is a life-long Tory voter and it took a Labour government to make him seriously question the idea of Capitalism, as his working conditions became a nightmare over the past 18 months and he couldn’t find a new job. Potential employers found his degree to be a problem, saying he was too clever.

    Now what is the word for a nation consumed with contempt for their own people….

  • @Andrew Suffield.This link clearly shows an n-shaped curve, with the richest paying slightly more than the poorest. That’s not regressive or progressive. It’s so unusual that we don’t have a trite political epithet for it.

    The rich have vast amounts of disposable income and therefore can take the VAT increase in their stride. What’s so hard to understand about that?

  • £83 Billion was used to keep the banks afloat. Presumably that money will be returned to the government some day. That would get rid of most of the structural deficit. So why then are the Lib Dem Cons unfairly cutting the living standards of older people, the unemployed, families on low incomes; children? Cuts to the disability living allowance; cuts to help for the jobless; cuts to tax credits; cutting back free school meals; axing child trust funds, cuts to child benefit which the Lib Dem Cons have frozen for the next three years; even cutting free swimming for children and the over sixties. And of course, a VAT bombshell: hiking the standard rate up to 20%. Ordinary people know nothing of n shaped curves, distribution tables, progressive or regressive taxation. But they do know when they are being taken for a ride. It’s no good compensating them for their losses with a lousy couple of hundred quid tax reduction if they’re lucky enough to have a low paid job. Some of them will have lost that with the child trust fund anyway. They know when they’re being conned. What the country needed was a budget to support economic growth, protect jobs, and cut the deficit fairly. Instead the Tories gave us a reckless Budget that pulls the rug out from under the recovery. And they couldn’t have done it without the support of the Lib Dems. Is their a single Lib Dem MP out there with the integrity to vote against the Budget? Please, I hope so. One of you must stand up and show that not everyone in your party is on the side of the callous millionaires.

  • Louise: “the generous economic forecasts of the Labour Government”

    Those will be the generous economic forecasts that Osborne’s hand picked Office for Budget Responsibility found was too pessimistic by £22bn on how much Britain would need to borrow over the last five years?

    This idea that the books were much worse than anyone knew has to be challenged for the lie that it is.

  • John Fraser 24th Jun '10 - 1:51pm

    Elaine (and any parliamentarians who happen to read this opposition to this budget is not about nit picking one or two bad things . Its about our near total sell out to the principals and ideas of the most extreme mainstream right wing party in Western europe.

    Simply one example is the real cuts in income for the unemployed.

    There has been (some) effort to protect low paid workers but income supprt based unemployed by defination even poorer . By penalising them we have branded them the undeserving poor and agreed with the conservative way of treating them like undeserving scrownging scum. This bigotedness is as fundimentally repellant to me as racism / homephobia etc . the scape goating of a whole section of society. Lid Dems always complain about class based politics … is it any wonder it still persists when we attack a whole class of people like this ? Clegg and Co should be holding their heads in shame for this piece of the budget alone. I am personally thouroghly ashamed of the party I’ve been in for 25 years.

    P.S. On a factual note can anyone confirm what the Indipendant meant today when it said Housing benafit would be FURTHER CUT after being unemployed for a year … and to what extent this would happen ? Do housing costs go down after a years unemployment ? Or is this just more of the scounging scum mentality ? (IF by chance the indipendant have got it wrong I take this last section back …but somehow I fear they have not so)

  • Brian Wanless, Chief Executive of Stagecoach and worth hundreds of millions of pounds, gives this budget his thumbs up…. he refers to the modest tweaking of CGT as ‘….a death sentence commuted’.

    I’m terminally ill on the other hand and becoming progressively more disabled – I’m now one of those ‘benefits scroungers’ until I prove otherwise even though I’ve proved otherwise several times over in a different format and had to face one of the DWP’s hostile doctors. This budget just frightens me, I know I’ll be expected to prove how ill I am soon and the whole idea sounds truly daunting.

    I don’t know how I’m going to get by with all these cuts and taxes.

  • @John Fraser

    @Bob W.

    Well said!

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