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UK Politics

Government accused of producing a Budget 'for the rich'


The Government was accused of producing a Budget "of the rich, for the rich", as reaction varied from support for the business measures to outrage from union leaders.

Rail union leader Bob Crow said the tax changes meant that a banker on half a million pounds will receive a "kick back"of £17,500, money "robbed" from public services and the neediest in society.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, said: "The different treatment of people at either end of the income scale is stark. Ordinary families are losing their tax credits and child allowances and suffering pay freezes while people on top salaries of £150,000 to £1 million a year are getting cash hand outs."

Local Government Association chairman Sir Merrick Cockell, said: "Today's confirmation that public spending will continue to fall beyond 2015 has to be accompanied with recognition that councils have so far delivered extremely demanding cuts, which others have failed to match.

"It is simply unsustainable to go on cutting council funding when the adult care system is dangerously overstretched and the country's roads need a £10 billion upgrade. More of the same into the next funding period would have a serious negative impact on many of the services residents expect councils to deliver."

Dave Prentis, general secretary of the Unison union, said: "The Chancellor's Budget has given a helping hand-out to his rich friends in the City and delivered a slap in the face to the unemployed and low-paid families.

"Osborne should be delivering policies to get the 2.67 million unemployed people back into work and economically active. Instead, the Government's cuts agenda is making the situation worse by adding to those numbers month by month."

Simon Walker, director-general of the Institute of Directors, said: "While any tax reduction is welcome, the Chancellor has not done enough to free business from the burdens and barriers that are holding economic growth back.

"Businesses dearly want the opportunity to invest, create and build, but George Osborne must go much further if he wants to fire up the engines of the economy. There was a bold move on corporation tax, but in the bigger picture this is still not far enough or fast enough."

Melanie Ward, head of public affairs at ActionAid, said: "We warmly welcome the Government's continued protection of the aid budget.

"UK aid saves lives and, despite these difficult economic times, we can all be proud that we are not walking away from our commitment to the world's poorest people.

"The Government deserves real credit for this."

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "We needed a Budget that looked to the future and made jobs - particularly for young people - the national priority. Instead we have got a Budget for the rich by the rich.

"One minute the Chancellor said he found tax avoidance morally repugnant, the next he rewarded it by cutting income tax for the richest one per cent - with precious little relief for hard-pressed families on ordinary incomes. Treasury figures show that those on low and middle incomes will do worse than those higher up the income scale.

"This looks like a Budget made to keep the coalition together rather than one made for the good of the country."

Simon Chouffot, spokesman for the Robin Hood Tax campaign, said: "This is less a Robin Hood Budget and more Sheriff of Nottingham - protecting the privileged few at the expense of services for the poorest.

"Osborne is barking up the wrong tree in this Budget. He won't bring down the deficit and protect those at the bottom by letting the richest off the hook."

Christina Samson, of direct action group UK Uncut, said: "The tax threshold for low earners will be raised but at the same time the tax rate for the rich will be cut. The anti-avoidance rules are so weak they are just PR fluff and the changes in stamp duty may be unenforceable.

"This Budget actively encourage big businesses and banks to avoid tax by making it easier for them to stash profits in tax havens, like Switzerland, which will cost the UK at least £1 billion every year."

Barnardo's Chief Executive Anne Marie Carrie said: "The Budget has been a wasted opportunity to help the 3.8 million children living in poverty in this country now."

Paul Everitt, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: "The Chancellor's actions to improve research and development tax credits and develop a catapult for transport systems and future cities will help trigger substantial extra business investment in the years ahead."

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said: "Whilst there are some helpful measures, they fail to send a strong enough signal to growing manufacturers that now is the time to bring forward their investment plans and to do it here.

"The corporation tax cut is welcome but, on its own, it is not the silver bullet that will unlock the business investment our economy urgently needs."

John Cridland, director general of the CBI, said: "Family budgets have been under great pressure, and by putting more money in the pockets of ordinary people, the Chancellor has provided a much-needed confidence boost.

"With many calls on the Chancellor to spend money he didn't have, the best news for businesses is that he stuck to his guns and delivered a fiscally-neutral programme."

Gillian Guy, chief executive at national charity Citizens Advice, said: "Raising the personal tax allowance is an empty gesture to struggling families on low wages.

"Poorer working families who get housing and council tax benefits will not get all of the money in their pocket, because as their income goes up, their benefits will go down."

John Longworth, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Never has there been a more important moment for the Government to focus on British business and long-term, sustainable growth.

"The Chancellor's commitments to contain the deficit and reduce corporation tax will be welcomed warmly by business. However, many small and medium-sized companies will feel the measures overwhelmingly benefit the biggest businesses. Smaller firms will be disappointed George Osborne did not do more to support confidence and growth in the real economy."

John Walker, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "We are pleased with some of the actions to cut the burden of red tape, help to get our young workers into employment, and measures to improve access to finance.

"Especially welcome are the proposals to simplify the tax system for the country's smallest companies. However, petrol prices remain a major concern for small businesses and we would have liked some further action on reducing the level of fuel duty to help struggling small firms."

Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey said: "This is another wasted year in what is becoming a lost decade for jobs and growth. But worse, this is a year where the poorest will be paying for the gifts lavished on the wealthy.

"For the almost three million unemployed, there was not an iota of hope in this Budget. They are not just forgotten, they are being condemned to joblessness. This was a Budget drawn up by a Cabinet of millionaires for millionaires."

Ian Brinkley, director at The Work Foundation, said: "This was the Budget that could have done much more to set out a growth strategy.

"There were some welcome hints of what could have been - measures that support key industries such as life sciences and the digital sector, help create a modern infrastructure and boost to the science base."


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