The Government’s Budget this autumn was billed as the “end of Austerity”. Alas, it was nothing of the sort.
For all the talk of “billions” of pounds, the extra money spent by the Chancellor is actually less than the rate of inflation. The personal tax allowance has gone up to £12,500 – which is a good thing for lower-paid working people – and the threshold for higher-rate tax has gone up to £50,000. But it is those who earn over £50,000 per year who benefit most from both of these tax changes. Like Robin Hood in reverse, the Chancellor is rewarding the wealthiest people in our society with the bulk of the £4 billion tax-cuts, while reducing the amount available via Universal Credit for the worst off.
The majority of Ipswich residents won’t notice any significant difference in their taxes. What you will notice is the effect of all the things that the Chancellor is NOT doing.
While we are getting new trains, we are not getting all the rail infrastructure investment that would make those new trains run faster, or more reliably, or at all.
There was no additional funding to provide the North Ipswich Bypass or to improve the junctions on the A14 which is vital for the economy of Ipswich and Felixstowe and the whole UK.
And while Suffolk will get full fibre connections to key public buildings, there’ll be no ultra-fast coverage for all, which is what we need if we are going to compete.
Because council funding has been cut and cut again, there is no extra investment in local highways – instead of rebuilding inadequate roads, we get a pothole grant to fill in the gaps temporarily.
And while Ipswich Borough Council will continue to build as many Council houses as it can, there will be no national fund to build the houses so desperately needed for our current and future young families.
Ipswich stands on the brink of a renaissance. But that renaissance is at risk while capital investment in Britain continues to fall. I believe in Ipswich, but we would do a whole lot better if we had a government that believed in our country enough to invest in it.