Tomorrow’s Budget should focus on the parts of the country that have thus far been ignored

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Sunday 28 October 2018 15:51
We should be stitching the country back together, taking pressure off the south, and removing the imbalance that has blighted these regions for decades
We should be stitching the country back together, taking pressure off the south, and removing the imbalance that has blighted these regions for decades

The chancellor should be spending about twice the announced uplift on our roads and the same again on other transport infrastructure. We have a lot of catching up to do and a sustainable future requires investment, not stagnation or further degradation.

It would also be wise to bring Birmingham into a Midlands “intelli-triangle”, not just create an Oxford to Cambridge super-privileged corridor. Birmingham has many acres of brownfield sites that could be recovered and improved to provide much of the living accommodation required, while bolstering its already excellent higher education and research facilities. Modern electric high speed transport links would shrink the time needed for commuting and provide excellent connectivity to industry as well as providing countless research and development opportunities for sustainable communities. Coventry and every other town along an improved A14 or A45 corridor would benefit.

And by then doing something similar for Manchester and Leeds we would start to stitch the country back together, take pressure off the south, and remove the imbalance that has blighted these regions for decades.

The less fortunate would at least get their potholes filled.

Michael Mann Shrewsbury

The time has come for the chancellor of the exchequer to recognise that British capitalism needs a root-and-branch makeover. He could start by distinguishing between companies committed to creating financial and social value and those that extract financial value and subtract social value.

Even if he were to end the latter, the economy is still dangerously unbalanced. It is speculated that an extreme example of economic imbalance occurred on Easter Island when the whole population became obsessed on quarrying stone to erect statues to their gods.

Of course, we don’t have any stone gods today – just the increasing role of financial motives, financial markets, financial actors and financial institutions in the operation of the domestic and international economies.

Geoff Naylor Hampshire

The people did not vote for a hard Brexit

How could the electorate have given the government a mandate for a hard Brexit when a hard Brexit had not been discussed in the referendum (and leading politicians had even mistakenly stated getting a deal would be easy and costless)?

If the electorate did not give a mandate for a hard Brexit and a deal cannot be made, a second referendum may be the best way to determine whether the electorate wants a hard Brexit or wants to remain in the EU.

Chris Lovejoy Yorkshire

The government must act to end the housing bubble

“Affordable” housing is clearly a subject that needs addressing. The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that: “Overall housing benefit spending in 2018-19 totalled £23.4bn, with 4.6 million recipients paid an average of £5,035 each. That would represent 2.9 per cent of total public spending and 1.1 per cent of national income.”

This confirms that it is taxpayers who are footing the bill for what is really unaffordable housing, with the emphasis on “really”.

There is only one way to overcome the current iniquity of homelessness. That is for the government to rule that from a date soon, every development large and small which is submitted for planning approval must contain at least 35 per cent of flats and houses costing no more than £225,000 with the emphasis on those costing less.

All dwellings should be “rent restricted” to 5 per cent of their respective achieved sale prices for life, with subsequent adjustments only by reference to local area wages and cost of living indices. Future sale prices would be unaffected and subject to sale and demand.

For instance, a flat in Dorset with a market value of £180,000 rented by a couple earning only £700 per week between them would be about £180 per week. This would give them scope to save to buy or rent a larger place as they raised a family and would meet government “affordability” definitions.

We cannot stop people buying properties either as second homes or to let. However, what we must do is stop funding the current “housing bubble” by subsidising rents to the tune of £24bn a year purely because the right sort of houses aren’t being built. Let the comparatively rich live where they want but let’s limit the extent to which they can distort the world by creating “elite neighbourhoods”.

The beauty of this suggestion is that its effect would enable a gradual reduction in housing benefits at the same time promoting a range of future properties to meet all of our needs and not just the affluent few. It defines the term “affordable” in an entirely appropriate and accurate manner. It would also stop profiteering by landlords who raise rents strategically.

Mike Joslin Dorchester

The Pittsburgh synagogue shooting is a sad reminder of the state of American society

It was heartbreaking to hear the sad loss of Jewish worshipers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. This is an attack on every human being who believes in solidarity, religious tolerance, equality, social justice, human rights and dignity. President Trump has sadly lambasted migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, Africans, the media, Muslims etc, and in due course has taken America to dangerous levels of white supremacy, racism, ignorance and chauvinism. Our response should be pitiless by vowing to never allow ourselves to slip into the dungeons of divisions and awful stereotypes.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob London NW2

When is the Republican Party going to acknowledge that what needs diffusing is Trump’s disgusting fully loaded rhetoric?

As Republicans whined on about other vile incidents where their own were targeted, none of them had the decency to also point out that previous presidents never celebrated, for example, violence against the press and assaults against women.

Trump is the problem. And his response? To tweet that the attempted political assassinations of top Democrats distracted from Fox News coverage of South American migrants.

Democracy is not in crisis it’s in intensive care.

Amanda Baker Edinburgh

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