Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the 2021 budget yesterday, prompting mixed reactions from South West London MPs.
The 200-page Budget and Spending Review will see changes including an additional £150 billion in spending for Whitehall departments, a 6.6% national living wage increase, and an 8% cut to the universal credit taper rate.
Speaking before a packed House of Commons, Sunak said: “Today’s Budget delivers a stronger economy for the British people.”
Simon Clarke, Chief secretary to the Treasury, told the BBC yesterday that the budget signalled a philosophical shift in conservatism after the biggest increase in 40 years to tax and public spending.
Conservative MP for Wimbledon Stephen Hammond, told SWL: “In Wimbledon, we have vibrant hospitality and leisure companies and a busy retail sector.
“The 50% business rates discount will help these businesses over the coming year.”
However, opposition party MPs in South West London have voiced serious concerns for lower and middle-income families amid rising inflation rates and higher taxes.
Liberal Democrat leader and MP for Kingston and Surbiton Ed Davey told SWL: “This was an out of touch Budget that is taking ordinary families here in Kingston and Surbiton for granted, hiking up people’s taxes while failing to help them with soaring energy bills this winter.
“I speak to parents locally who are crying out for the catch-up funding our children desperately need.
“The Chancellor let them down today, offering less in extra catch up funding than his tax cut for the big banks.
“People here are worried and anxious about the climate emergency. Instead of helping insulate peoples homes and build better transport links the Chancellor has decided to cut air passenger duty, ignoring the damage to our planet and air quality locally.”
Labour MP for Tooting Rosena Allin-Khan, told SWL: “With so many people locally dependent on Universal Credit, and even more worried about the coming National Insurance hikes, this isn’t a Budget for the people of Tooting.”
In his speech, the Chancellor said that inflation was set to rise to 4% amid rising energy prices and surging demand for goods as the world reopens from the pandemic.
According to The Institute for Fiscal Studies, an independent microeconomic research body, millions of people will be worse off in the short term as the country experiences one of the longest periods of wage stagnation on record.
Concern was also shared by MPs over the budget’s failure to uphold UK climate commitments.
Sarah Olney, Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park, said the budget’s decision to implement tax cuts to domestic flights was laughable as the UK prepares to host COP26.
Labour MP for Battersea, Marsha de Cordova, shared with SWL: “What we needed was a spending review that invests in the green recovery, but what we got was an insufficient warm homes plan that will leave many families in Battersea left out in the cold.”
Cordova also addressed the new 4% cladding tax, adding: “The new levy on developer’s profits to help fund the removal of cladding will leave thousands of blameless leaseholders in Battersea to foot the large majority of costs.”
Elsewhere, Labour and Co-operative MP for Vauxhall Florence Eshalomi criticised the lack of public spending for the HIV Action Plan, a government pledge to end new cases of HIV in England by 2030.
Labour MP for Putney Fleur Anderson, told SWL: “While there was a small change to Universal Credit, it won’t make enough difference for the 7,200 households in Putney on this benefit.
“Three-quarters of them will be worse off because of previous cuts to universal credit and the budget did nothing for them.
“Tax cuts on domestic flights will be very disappointing for Putney residents who live under that flight path.
“There are already too many flights and the carbon impact is huge as well as the noise. It sends the wrong message to the world ahead of COP26.”
Anderson also shared concerns over the lack of funding committed to education.
She said: “I’ve been out supporting our local state maintain nursery schools and there was no additional funding announced for them.
“Overall, there was not enough funding for education pledged and that is really concerning after COVID and the damage that’s had on children’s education and to employment prospects for young people.
“I don’t think residents of south west London are going to see anything much better from the budget.”
Featured image: Number 10, Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)