Autumn Statement NHS cuts of £3.4 billion were criticised by the Liberal Democrats, whilst the Chancellor slashed taxes to banks.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt announced the Treasury’s plans for the economy, including state pensions increase, National Insurance cuts and OBR forecasts.
Hunt also pledged the largest ever minimum wage increase, an additional 10% levy on hand-rolled tobacco, and a continued freeze on alcohol duty.
Largest ever minimum wage increase
The Chancellor’s newly announced plans will now see 21 and 22 year olds earning the same minimum wage as those 23 and over: £11.44 from April 2024.
Twickenham MP Munira Wilson said: “Any increase in the minimum wage is welcome, but the Government is giving back just a tiny share of what it’s taken away through its economic mismanagement.
“They left inflation raging on, squeezing people’s pay by hundreds of pounds.
“And they raised taxes on hard-working people, hitting them during a cost-of-living crisis.
“People on low incomes would have been much better off without this Government’s economic mismanagement.”
700,000 disabled people set to work
On those who are disabled and receive benefits without work search requirements, the Chancellor said: “That waste is wrong economically, and wrong morally.”
These people will now be pushed towards working from home and getting treatment: a policy forecasted to get nearly 700,000 more people employed and increase growth.
Munira Wilson MP further condemned Hunt’s Autumn Statement NHS and social care content: “Worse still was the deafening silence on health.
“These dismal forecasts show the economy is on life support and reducing NHS waiting lists is the shot in the arm needed.”
Government pressure towards those with health conditions to get treatment and back into the workforce comes at an arguably hypocritical time of increasing NHS waiting lists.
During 13 years of Conservative government, NHS waiting lists median length in England has increased from 5.5 weeks in May 2010 to 14.7 in October 2023.
Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson, Sarah Olney MP said: “It is a no-brainer that we need people off waiting lists and back to work, yet this Conservative government simply doesn’t care.
“(The Autumn Statement) has been more stale nonsense from a Conservative government out of touch and out of ideas.”
The biggest business tax cut in modern British history
Hunt dubbed the upcoming economic plans ‘the biggest business tax cut in modern British history’, which include £3.8bn real terms tax cut to banks.
The cuts have largely been supported by high inflation sneakily decreasing the real bands at which people pay tax, increasing government revenue.
Olney said: “This is a deception from Jeremy Hunt after years of cruel tax hikes on hard-working families from this government.
“After years of Conservative chaos sending mortgage and tax bills soaring, today’s announcements won’t even touch the sides.
“It beggars belief that this Conservative government is slashing funding for the NHS while giving billions of pounds of tax giveaways to the banks. It just shows they have got their priorities completely wrong.”
Pensions up, national insurance down
National Insurance payments by employees will reduce by 2% from 12% to 10% from 6 January.
With a 8.5% increase to full state pensions from April, the government is massively supporting pensioners – a group which is on average more conservative.
This may suggest the Conservatives are pandering policy to their voter base and reducing taxes soon because they plan to call the next general election early next year.