Chancellor Rishi Sunak hopes the measures that he put in this year’s Budget will be enough to divert attention from the serious failings of the Conservative government.
In spite of the problems caused mainly by the UK’s departure from the European Union and the response to tackling the coronavirus pandemic, most commentators, even those on the political left, will once again give them the benefit of the doubt. Here are some of the main points:
- A reduction in business rates to some sectors of the economy;
- National minimum wage to rise to £9.50 an hour;
- £6.5billion for tackling the NHS backlog caused by the pandemic;
- £7billion for key transport projects outside London;
- £4.5billion for schools;
- £24.5billion for housing, including a levy on some housing projects to fund the removal of unsafe cladding as well as £640million to tackle rough sleeping.
Yet even the government’s “optimistic agenda” cannot disguise the fact that in the real world:
- Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had to self isolate yet again after being tested postive for COVID-19;
- Our COVID-19 cases, already the highest in Europe, continue to rise;
- A refugee crisis which is out of control;
- The overall cost of living is rising, with repeated hikes in utility, fuel and shopping bills;
- Current shortages of vital foods, medicines and raw materials due to the government’s stupid brexit deal.
There seems to be a sense that the UK is slowly falling apart, yet most people, with some exceptions, are increasingly opting out of doing anything to change the direction of the country.