Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, blogs about the impact of the 2017 Budget on Islington.
Today (8 March), the Chancellor delivered his Budget statement, setting out the Tories’ plans for the country’s finances. Unfortunately, this Tory Budget has once again failed to deliver for working people in Islington.
For all the press coverage and attention the Budget receives today, it offers little of real value to Islington residents. There will be no help to build more genuinely affordable homes, no new funding for local council services that help people into work and no real help for local businesses that will be hit by the massive increase in Government taxes.
The Chancellor offered warm words to small and medium businesses in Islington who are set to see their business rates rise significantly. However, despite rigorous campaigning from Islington Labour and business representatives, there will not be a freeze on business rates rises. Also, the relief being offered to small businesses is nowhere near enough to support all those who need it.
Despite inflicting 70 per cent cuts on Islington Council, the Tory Government has miraculously found hundreds of millions of pounds to bring back divisive grammar schools. There is overwhelming evidence that grammar schools undermine social mobility and do not increase overall educational performance, so this move is entirely dogmatic.
Although it is welcome that the Budget promises more money for social care, this is still only a sticking plaster that lasts for a mere three years. Once again the Tories have proven they are anything but the party of the NHS.
By contrast, Islington Labour will continue to build new genuinely affordable homes, with the largest council home building programme for 30 years. We will also continue to help more local people into work, building on the more than 3,000 people we have helped find secure jobs since 2014.
The Tory Budget will also disproportionately hit young people, who will be saddled with the ideological decisions of this Government for years to come. That is why we will support young people by protecting youth services for all and invest in targeted support for those at risk of turning to crime.
The Chancellor did not address the elephant in the room while he was delivering his Budget – Brexit. Despite repeated calls, the Tories have failed to confirm that vital EU funding to councils will be protected post-Brexit. It was also quietly announced today that billions more pounds have been put aside to cope with the effect of Brexit, proving that the Tories do not have a clear plan.
Today’s Tory Budget shows that only Islington Labour is on the side of working people.
Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council