It’s time to give the vulnerable some real help


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The Independent Online

The Chancellor will deliver a popular Budget when he stands up in the House of Commons at 12.30 today. He will announce tax cuts for all and extra help for vulnerable folk.

At a stroke he will scrap the existing Coalition policy of pleasing the rich while fleecing the poor. Instead, in a major U-turn, he will commit Conservatives to putting aside petty party politics to concentrate on ensuring no Briton is left struggling on the edge of financial disaster because of central government policies.

Or maybe he won’t. Or at least not yet. Any vote-winning measures will almost certainly be kept in the drawer until next March, when the Tories will be desperate for a boost just two  months before the 2015 General Election.

And even then any budgetary changes are still much more likely to be moves that benefit traditional Tory voters, rather than the vulnerable millions who remain in desperate need of some positive financial news.

Whichever way you cut it, the UK’s much-vaunted return to economic growth is yet to reach the millions of homes where hard choices have to be made every day about where to spend their meagre money.

And that’s worth bearing in mind today as Osborne will undoubtedly pay lip service about the benefit of his changes that will help “hard-working” families. But the truth will be that, as with almost every other politician in recent times, his promises will remain unfulfilled in terms of leaving us better off in real terms.

For instance the much-trailed proposal to increase the personal tax allowance to £10,500, rather than the already announced rise to £10,000, will not make a lot of difference to hard-up folk, according to children’s charity Barnardo’s. It reckons that an average poor, lone-parent family will gain just £74 per year from the measure due to a design flaw in how tax links to Universal Credit.

That’s a shame as, after four long years of struggle under this Coalition, it feels time for real help for the vulnerable, rather than empty posturing from politicians.

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