Budget 2020

On Wednesday 11 March the Government delivered its Budget, announcing tax and spending plans for the year ahead. 

We have to work together as a country to overcome the threat from coronavirus, and the Opposition paid tribute to the work of experts and NHS workers who are dealing with the crisis. The additional money announced in the Government’s budget to head off the threat of the virus are welcome, but lessons must be learned. After ten years of cuts our health and social care services are utterly ill-prepared to deal with the outbreak, and unfortunately the impact of the crisis is likely to be sharper because of a fundamentally weak economy and the crisis in public services created by actions of Conservative governments over the past ten years.

There appear to be major holes in the coronavirus package: no extension of statutory sick pay to those on zero-hours contracts, nothing for others without a contract of employment, no suggestion that sick pay levels will be increased, and no new money for our struggling social care system. At a time when the public urgently needs security and significant change, it is disappointing that the Government is failing to rise to the challenges of the moment.

We have had ten years of austerity – and we were reminded this morning that there was zero growth over the last three months. The fundamental weakness in the economy looks set to continue: with downgrades to GDP and GDP per capita by 0.4% in 2020.

The Government is not filling the £192 billion infrastructure hole it created between 2010 and 2010. This budget channels huge investments into road building, while offering no new support for renewable energy sources like wind and solar, derisory support for electric vehicles and no commitment to reduce the cost of public transport