Budget LIVE: Progressives respond to Hammond’s Autumn Statement

Here's what the left has to say about the Chancellor's Autumn Statement.

No other budget in recent years has seen so much pressure on the Chancellor to ease up austerity. Whether it’s demands to end the pay cap or to clamp down on tax dodging, the run up to this Autumn Statement has been a fraught one for Phillip Hammond. 

16:02: The lack of action on lifting the public sector pay cap of 1% means unions are now likely to step up their fight with the Chancellor.

That includes civil service union PCS, who have already balloted their members on whether they’d be prepared to take strike action over the cap.

Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary, said:

“The abject failure of the chancellor to address the issue of public sector pay sums up this government’s attitude to its own workforce.

“It shows the government doesn’t care about the crisis that its austerity programme has created. Our members sent a resounding message to the chancellor in a recent ballot that the cap needed to be scrapped. His failure to listen and act is staggering.

“PCS will now, as a matter of urgency, step up our campaign on pay, in alliance with other public sector unions, to force the Chancellor – or anyone who replaces him – to rectify this deeply damaging policy.”

15:47: The £1.6bn of extra NHS funding Hammond pledged for 2018-19 is less than half the £4bn that NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens and leading think tanks have said is needed – leading the Lib Dems to slam the under-funding.

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Judith Jolly commented:

“The number of nurses are falling, waiting time targets are being missed, and treatments are being rationed. In social care, more than a million vulnerable older people are already missing out on vital support that they need…

“[The extra cash] is nowhere near enough to stave off the looming disaster facing our NHS and social care services.

“By putting a penny on the pound, we can raise an extra £6bn a year and secure the future of the NHS and care.”

15:20: Unions have thrown their voice in the ring. public sector union UNISON’s general secretary Dave Prentis said:

“The Chancellor says he wants to make Britain ‘fit for the future’ – but his deeply disappointing Budget has left public services gasping for air.

“All public sector workers needed a real pay rise today, not yet another let down. Healthcare assistants, care workers, school receptionists and other public servants struggling to get by can’t survive on wages that bump along at the bottom while prices soar.

“This was a Budget to match the dull and gloom of a November day.”

14:44: The Fabian Society have slammed what they’re presenting as an inequality budget.

Andrew Harrop, General Secretary, said:

“This Budget will bring more inequality, more poverty and more misery to our divided country. It was immoral to cut the tax bills of people with high incomes while also freezing benefits for families, as inflation soars.

“With the living standards of poorer households falling fast and child poverty projected to rise, the Chancellor decided to give high-earning couples a £600 tax cut.

“And at a time when low income tenants have no protection from increasing rents, he handed a £5,000 tax cut to first time buyers with the money for a big deposit.

“Today the gap between rich and poor has widened yet again.”

14:36:  David Hillman, spokesperson for the Robin Hood Tax Campaign believes the budget is a missed opportunity. He told Left Foot Forward:

With austerity bringing such great hardship to so many people, Hammond’s budget fails to properly address the gaping need in essential social care and schools – now stretched to breaking point.

“The Chancellor should stop tinkering around the edges and raise urgently needed money from a banking sector who, with their telephone number sized salaries and bumper bonuses, can clearly afford it. 

“Just eight days of Robin Hood Tax revenue would fund the salaries of 1,000 new police constables, 1,000 newly qualified nurses and 1,000 teachers. We simply cannot afford not to do this.”

14:30: The National Education Union have issued their verdict on the budget. Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary, said:

“The Government had a big political choice to make in today’s Budget – to invest in education, or to continue with its damaging policy of real terms cuts. The Budget, with no significant new money for education, shows that the Government has chosen to ignore the anger of parents and the clear evidence of the problems being created by real terms cuts to education. Parents and teachers will be deeply disappointed.

“Despite the worsening teacher recruitment and retention crisis and the huge real terms cuts in teacher pay since 2010, the Chancellor had nothing to offer teachers or the profession.  Instead of school staff losing jobs or seeing the value of their pay cut, the Government needs to invest in those working in education.”

14:00: Corbyn is flagging another missing policy – commitments for those in the private rental sector. Not a single policy pledge to those millions of mostly young people.

13:59: Good point – where was social care in this budget? The system is in total meltdown:

13:54: Corbyn is really going for it. The Deputy Speaker is having to call for order every minute or so in the face of heckling and jeers.

13:52: Great take-down from Labour’s Mary Creagh on a feeble NHS bung:

13:50: Corbyn is slamming Universal Credit: “Wouldn’t it have been better to pause the whole thing?…The Chancellor’s solution is to offer a loan – and the six week wait to get UC simply becomes a five week wait.”

13:44: Jeremy Corbyn is now responding to the budget.

A nice burn from John McDonnell in the meantime:

13:38: There it is: the Tories are abolishing Stamp Duty on homes up to £300,000 for first time buyers (£500,000 in London) – making some homes about £5,000 cheaper.

It’s a policy that comes at a significant cost to government – and might merely undo some of the inflationary damage that Help to Buy has inflicted on house prices for first time buyers. A symbolic wheeze from Hammond?

13:36: The Homes and Communities Agency is being re-branded as ‘Homes England’, bringing together different pots of money. Will it be as big and bold as Hammond is touting it?…

13:32: Hammond is talking about land being ‘withheld from the market’. But why should land be given to the market if councils can use it to build even more quickly?

He is ignoring an potentially game-changing way of dealing with the housing crisis – a People’s Land Bank.

13:30: Hammond’s  tax avoidance plans are predicted to raise £4.8 billion by 2022/23. But the tax gap is far higher than that, as accounting expert Prem Sikka reports.

And his promises on rough sleeping also ring a bit hollow (as LFF‘s Oscar Webb reports)…

13:26: Labour are going hard on tax-dodging – even if Hammond isn’t:

13:22: The economically and environmentally indefensible policy of freezing fuel duty is set to continue:

13:20: Hammond has pledged some more cash for the NHS – but made a bit of a blunder:

He has fobbed off calls for ending the pay cap in the NHS too – saying only that Jeremy Hunt will hold talks on the issue.

13:17: Good news that the minimum wage is rising – but does it make the 1% public sector pay cap seem even more unfair?

13:13: Full business rate devolution, as is being mooted, would hit the already-poorest local authorities hardest:

13:09: Hammond just announced an end to the seven day wait before a claim can be fulfilled. And advances can now be applied for online.

But UC itself will continue to have a disproportionate impact on women and larger families:

13:05: Lots of bungs to Northern Ireland – including £650m to the Northern Ireland executive (once it gets off the ground again). The DUP should be pleased.

13:03: Well there’s a pleasant surprise. Hammond pledged to maintain support for UnionLearn, the TUC’s learning body. ‘I got an email from Len about it,’ he joked.

13:00: For all the spin about a ‘balanced budget’, here’s the state of national debt in the UK:

“Tax rates on diesel cars (but not vans) will go up 1 percentage point, until manufacturers can improve the technology and reduce emissions.”FT

12:56: This appears to be the Research and Development Budget – in part a response to a collapse in EU investment after Brexit:

“The Chancellor announces he will extend a key infrastructure fund, the National Productivity Investment Fund, for another year and expand it to over £31bn.” – reports the Mirror.13:03: Well there’s a pleasant surprise. Hammond pledged to maintain support for UnionLearn, the TUC’s learning body. ‘I got an email from Len about it,’ he joked.


12:50: The Office for Budget Responsibility has slashed the growth forecasts for the UK:

12:47: Housing was always set to be a priority in this budget. Except that the solutions Hammond is pushing fall far short:

12:45: The Chancellor started his budget by setting aside £3bn for planning for Brexit and will set aside more ‘if needed’.

And he is focusing on the ‘technological revolution’.

He jokes about asking a friend to ‘bring a packet of cough sweets just in case’ – and mocks Gove’s recent attempts in Cabinet to pitch himself as a Chancellor-in-waiting:

More follows.

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One Response to “Budget LIVE: Progressives respond to Hammond’s Autumn Statement”

  1. patrick newman

    So speadsheet Phil has metamorphosed into creative accounting Phil and almost becoming Harry Enfield ‘loads o’ money’ Phil! Or perhaps with the felling of so many money trees, it should be I’m a fiscal lumberjack Phil. Is anybody taken in by this bovine excrement called “headroom”? How can you have headroom when the deficit is £50bn and the national debt £1.7trillion +.There is no certain indication that the deficit will have been cleared by 2025 and in fact the government now seem to be saying it’s OK if it is under 2% of GDP (i.e. £36bn) Every forecast since 2010 has been seriously wrong and in a bad way. The OBR cannot even get the house building figures right – it’s 153,320 according to DCLG, not 217,000!

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