On top of the emergency budget he put in place just after the recent general election, Chancellor George Osborne laid out more measures aimed to raise revenue and cut the massive public deficit inherited from Labour.
Despite some concessions, most of his measures will mean more pain for most of us in the long run.
- A planned 4p per litre rise in car fuel duty has been postponed, and 1p will be cut. The fuel duty escalator has been scrapped. Air passenger duty rise will be delayed for 12 months. However, the oil companies will face a levy to pay for fuel charges.
- Alcohol and tobacco rises planned by the previous government will go ahead. Corporation Tax for businesses to be cut by one per cent. Financial help will be given to first time buyers wanting to get on the property ladder.
- Plans to merge tax and National Insurance. A £600 increase in personal tax allowances from April 2012. Economic forecasts from the Treasury for 2011 downgraded.
Some have been given, yet others have been taken away. The coalition government will be pleased with the mixed reaction. Labour neither had an answer nor a respected budget alternative. All the main political parties still don’t have ideas over how to reduce the increasing cost of living. What is the point of trying to put more money in our pockets when bills for utilities, transport fares and other basic items continue to rise relentlessly?
Where are the policies that will help the long-term, and the newly unemployed? Where are the policies to tackle crime, encourage social cohesion and improve the environment? Where are the policies to invest in areas like health and transport?
Key issues demand long-term solutions. Unfortunately in 21st-century UK, nothing ever changes.