'Out of touch': North London MPs give verdict on Budget
- Credit: PA
North London MPs have responded to the government's autumn Budget, which promised increased spending on health and cuts to domestic flights tax and alcohol duty.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled government spending plans in the House of Commons last Wednesday (October 27).
He said: "Today’s Budget delivers a stronger economy for the British people: "Stronger growth, with the UK recovering faster than our major competitors. Stronger public finances, with our debt under control.
"Stronger employment, with fewer people out of work and more people in work. Growth up, jobs up, and debt down."
Plans to help the economy recover from the impact of Covid-19 included the announcement of £5.9 billion for the NHS to help clear treatment backlogs. To support families in need, the chancellor said the universal credit taper rate will be reduced from 63% to 55%.
The chancellor introduced a lower domestic rate of air passenger duty in 2023, sparking criticism ahead of COP26, and a change to alcohol duty based on a series of rates per alcohol percentage.
In response, Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West called for "urgent action" to tackle the "cost of living crisis".
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She told the Ham&High: “This is an out of touch, high tax, low growth Budget. It's going to be a tough winter, with rising costs, inflation and empty supermarket shelves, and the Budget failed to address the very real concerns of my constituents in Hornsey and Wood Green.
"We needed urgent action to relieve the cost of living crisis, but what we got was more of the same spin and a failure to address the real concerns of my constituents which I see each and every day in my office.”
As the leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer would normally have responded to the chancellor’s statement in the Commons, but the Holborn and St Pancras MP is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19.
He was replaced by shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, and shadow business secretary Ed Miliband for Prime Minister’s Questions.
In a video posted on Twitter, Sir Keir thanked his colleague for filling in for him, calling their response to the Budget "brilliant".
He said: “Both of them stepped up at short notice – very short notice – to absolutely call out the government for their failure on the climate crisis and to hammer the chancellor on his smoke and mirror Budget which does nothing for working people and nothing about the cost-of-living crisis."
Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq criticised Rishi Sunak's promise of a £500 million investment into "expanded support for children and families", including £300 million for local authorities to "transform services in new local Family Hubs".
The Labour MP said on Twitter: "A handful of Family Hubs will not make up for the loss of over 1,000 children's centres under the Conservatives.
"Pretending this is in some way new is an insult to the families who have suffered from Sure Start closures."
She added: "This vital social infrastructure is collapsing and the Budget is a sticking plaster."
Speaking in her capacity as chair of London Councils, which represents the capital's 33 local authorities, Camden Council leader Georgia Gould warned more investment is needed.
She said: “Today we’ve seen some recognition of the vital role that local services play in our communities but we urgently need more resources.
“Boroughs have proved themselves crucial in the response to Covid-19 and are determined to secure a post-pandemic recovery that drives green growth and tackles inequalities in the capital.
"London is a dynamic, successful city but also a place of immense challenges – including the highest unemployment, homelessness, and relative poverty rates in the UK.
“However, the announced funding increases aren’t enough to meet the huge challenges facing our communities. In particular, there remains great uncertainty over adult social care, which is the largest area of council spending and supports some of our most vulnerable residents.
"We’re also deeply concerned that London is missing out on a fair share of levelling up support.
“We’ll continue working with the government on our shared ambitions while also making the case to ministers for the powers and resources we need to make faster progress.”
Additional reporting by PA.