The Chancellor used his Spring Statement to further his own political ambitions, with promises of pre-election tax cuts in two years’ time – when struggling low and middle-income families need urgent help now.
The Chancellor could have backed Labour’s windfall tax on the record profits of oil and gas producers to cut energy bills for families. He could have set out a plan to boost productivity and skills, and he could have fully scrapped the National Insurance hike. That’s what a Labour Government would be doing.
Instead, he chose to bank most of the £50bn in higher-than-expected tax revenues to pay for a pre-election income tax cut in 2024, when households badly need support now. We are in a cost-of-living crisis and struggling families shouldn’t be forced to suffer just to pay for the Conservative Party’s election campaign.
Support for people on low incomes was almost completely absent from this statement. The Government has already cut Universal Credit by £1,000 per year. With inflation running at a 40-year high, they are likely to lose another £1,000 in the year ahead. I don’t need to tell anyone that people on the lowest incomes in Newcastle just don’t have £2,000 to spare. How many more children have to fall into poverty before the Government takes notice and does something about it?
This Government just doesn’t appreciate the scale of the challenge we face. For all the Chancellor’s attempts to portray himself as a tax cutter, we are facing the biggest tax burden in 70 years, alongside the biggest hit to household incomes on record. The Government got its priorities all wrong in this Spring Statement, and it is families and businesses that will pay the price.