Peter Chowney:“These changes do nothing to help vulnerable households who have suffered the most from austerity.”
Peter Chowney, leader of the Labour run Hastings council, has criticized Philip Hammond’s new budget for not doing enough to help the impoverished and says the budget is an admission that the universal credit system is deeply flawed
Philip Hammond announced his budget on Monday, claiming it to be the end of Austerity, with added money to certain public services, with 20 billion pounds pledged to the NHS. However, the Governments budget has come under criticism for tax cuts that heavily benefit high earners, while leaving out the impoverished. Peter Chowney noted in particulate how residents of Hastings have had no benefits in tax cuts.
Peter Chowney: “The overall package of tax and benefit changes announced since 2015 will deliver an average gain of £390 for the richest fifth of households in 2023-24, compared to an average loss of £400 for the poorest fifth. It has forced Hastings people to use food banks more than ever before. These changes do nothing to help vulnerable households who have suffered the most from austerity.”
Despite the increased spending to the NHS, the budget has also been criticized for containing numerous cuts to public services. Peter Chowney worries in particular the effects it will have on the police force.
Peter Chowney: “Further, hidden in the Chancellor’s Red Book small print is another £7 billion in cuts to public services, the impact of which will only be realized in the years ahead, aside from what will happen if there is no deal on Brexit.
Of particular concern locally is the lack of money for Police recruitment to help tackle street drinking and anti-Social behavior following £57 million in cuts in eight years to the Sussex force”
Peter Chowney has also heavily criticized the introduction of Universal credits. Hastings was one of the first constituencies to be introduced to the new system in December of 2016. Peter Chowney says the system didn’t offer any help for leaving poverty and made Hastings into a testing ground to see if the system worked.
Peter Chowney:“Hastings saw the earliest roll out of Universal Credit. Residents became guinea pigs for a system that had major flaws built into it and was designed to punish people for being poor rather than offering them support.”
Mr Chowney has also criticized the budget for keeping in cuts to the council which he says makes will make even the most basic service from the council unsustainable
Peter Chowney: “Overall, this budget is little more than window-dressing, designed to capture a few favorable headlines without dealing with the massive problems of collapsing public services and increasing poverty that is affecting the more deprived constituencies such as Hastings & Rye particularly badly.”