So in these troubled times, Britain’s so called “hard-working people” are set for a tax cut as well as reduction in inheritance tax (the tax on good luck) but the working poor are going to be lumped with tax credit reductions, sinisterly masked by the overdue minimum wage increase. As for the vulnerable people on welfare, they are set for further destruction with extreme cuts. Poor students, too, will suffer as a result of the end of the maintenance allowance.
“One nation,” they say; how very naïve the Tories must think we are.
In all the harrumphing from employers about the Budget’s National Living Wage, it is worth pointing out that some of us think the Chancellor has done absolutely the right thing.
It took some courage when my own organisation became the first national care organisation to pay the Living Wage back in April 2014. We knew in our hearts that it was the right thing to do, but also understood as an employer of 1,500 people that it would add to our costs.
Fifteen months on, paying the Living Wage has reaped rewards for our charity in reduced staff turnover, greater staff satisfaction and an even greater commitment to the older people who live with us.
My only regret with the Budget measure is that it didn’t go further by matching the Living Wage Foundation’s rates of £7.85 an hour nationally and £9.15 in London. Not until the entire care sector rewards its people fairly for the very challenging work they undertake will older people get the excellent support they deserve.
The Abbeyfield Society
St Albans, Hertfordshire
On the face of it, the introduction of the new National Living Wage is a positive step towards properly rewarding social care workers for their hard work in looking after the country’s most vulnerable adults.
However, more than £4.6bn has been cut from local authority budgets since 2010-11, with further cuts of £1.1bn ahead, and councils have been cutting their investment in social care and squeezing providers.
Unless the Government and local authorities commit to investing more into social care and paying providers properly, it is difficult to see how they will be able to pay this new, increased wage, however much they might want to.
Chair, Independent Care Group (York and North Yorkshire), Scarborough
George Osborne has promised a living wage of £9 by 2020, conveniently just before the next election. The value of that £9 per hour by then will be worth no more than the current minimum wage, with the fraudulent quantitative easing being done by the banks, which is counterfeiting by another name. A total con.
Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh
The decision by the Chancellor to end tax deductions for buy-to-let mortgages is shocking. It unfairly discriminates against landlords who provide valuable housing across Scotland. In other businesses, tax is applied on profit, as it should be.
Although we welcome other measures in the Budget such as reforms to the Rent A Room scheme which will increase supply of affordable rented accommodation, the decision on buy-to-let mortgages means landlords will essentially be taxed for investing in their businesses, something utterly unthinkable in any other sector.
As a result of this increase cost and risk to landlords, you may see some within the sector feeling they are forced to increase their rent levels, which would obviously have a huge negative impact on tenants.
Chief Executive, Scottish Association of Landlords,
Reading about Shanice Oldcorn’s fears in your case study following the Budget sadly came as no surprise.
For many young people, access to support for a short time while they get back on their feet can be the only thing standing between them and the streets. The cut to housing benefit for 18-21 year olds confirmed by George Osborne will be a huge blow for all those already struggling, and has the potential to push even more into homelessness.
For some young people, for example, escaping an abusive household or thrown out because of their sexuality, going back to their parents simply isn’t an option. For their sake this needs to be scrapped.
Director of Communications, Policy & Campaigns, Shelter
No inheritance tax on a £1m house? I’m sure that will be a great comfort to someone in the queue for the food bank, or the university graduate.
Iain Duncan Smith says: “I believe that the best route out of poverty is work.” I imagine that quite a few of his colleagues might suggest that an excellent route out of poverty is a large inheritance.
Being genuinely and unfeignedly surprised and delighted by an element in a Conservative Budget is a new feeling. Who’d have thought that it would be an extreme right-wing Western regime that would take the next tentative steps toward population control?
Haydon Bridge, Northumberland
Toy soldiers at Wimbledon
Prompted by Wimbledon fortnight, David Boyle wonders what strawberries and cream have to do with tennis (8 July). A more important question is what is the justification for armed forces personnel serving as a Wimbledon adornment.
The tournament, a private venture, uses members of the armed forces as unpaid stewards, in uniform, thereby falsely giving the event the aura of an official national undertaking. Using our servicemen and women as decorative lackeys at tennis matches featuring stratospherically rewarded sports stars is demeaning. It turns defenders of the realm into toy soldiers.
I have no difficulty understanding the link between strawberries and cream and Wimbledon. It’s that kind of oh-so-English event. But it is surely time to abandon the use of uniformed members of the armed forces to bolster the tournament’s image.
Kids Company row is a diversion
Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility believe that Kids Company’s unique provision of psychotherapy services has filled a critical gap in provision.
At a time when nearly 80 per cent of NHS clinical commissioning groups have been forced to freeze or cut budgets for child and adolescent mental health services, it is hard to interpret the current crisis at Kids Company as anything other than yet another undermining of vulnerable children and families living in poverty.
How can we take the Government’s stated concern for the survival of Kids Company at face value, given the backdrop of the impact of its austerity policies on children’s lives? The damage is not only social, it is also psychological, and affects some children and families in ways that require the “reaching out” therapeutic approach of Kids Company that has been so demonstrably effective.
In a culture where media and public love to focus on the flaws of individuals who attain a high public profile, it seems that the focus on Camila Batmanghelidjh and how Kids Company is run is a very effective diversion from the real issue, which is that austerity is pushing the most vulnerable people further levels of deprivation and distress.
Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility, London N7
Tories don’t want PR in England
“English votes for English laws” is in the news again.It should be more correctly referred to as “Tory laws for hapless England”.
Devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland functions through assemblies elected by proportional representation, giving them greater democratic legitimacy. No such proposal is forthcoming for England.
David Cameron’s 37 per cent strategy at the general election has been brilliantly successful at getting his MPs elected, by almost wiping out his coalition partners. It does not however satisfy the 63 per cent who did not vote for his party.
The noise of lorries turning left
As I walked home from the shops, I was accompanied all the way by the announcement from a lorry that is was turning left. I could still hear it clearly as I opened my front door, more than 100 yards away.
Surely a way could be found to improve the safety of cyclists which does not involve adding yet another layer of noise pollution to our lives?
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