I am glad that the Chancellor has bowed to public pressure and trade union campaigning in extending financial support for workers and businesses – yet this was the bare minimum needed, and anything less would have been disastrous for the economy.
Overall, the Chancellor’s Budget was incredibly unimaginative and unambitious, with little in terms of a long-term plan for our recovery. The better policies, such as a Treasury campus in Darlington and the National Infrastructure Bank in Leeds, were lifted straight from the 2019 Labour Manifesto. However, there was no plan for social care, the environment was barely addressed, and thousands of public sector key workers in Durham still face a pay freeze.
I am incredibly frustrated that a year into this pandemic, the Chancellor has not fixed major gaps in the Government’s coronavirus support. Statutory sick pay should have been increased to allow workers to self-isolate, legacy benefits should have been uplifted in line with Universal Credit, and the minimum wage should have been raised to £10 an hour to give workers some security and money to spend in our communities. These are simple, achievable measures that would have made a massive difference to people’s lives and to the economy.
What this economic crisis truly needed was an ambitious plan from the Chancellor, yet instead we are left with an ambitious Chancellor, who seems to spend more time on PR and furthering his career than on the economy. Britain deserves better.