“Budget fails to address the acute challenges that our country is facing” – Wirral MP

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14 Mar 2024
Parliament has been dissolved until after the general election and I am no longer an MP.

Margaret Greenwood MP has spoken out in parliament highlighting the “appalling levels of poverty” and “brutal cuts” from central government since 2010.

The Wirral West MP was taking part in a debate on the spring budget which was delivered to parliament by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt last week. It is a tradition that the budget debates take place over several days and into the following week.

Recent research from the charity The Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that more than 14 million people in the UK are living in poverty, including more than four million children and two million pensioners. It has also been reported that around one million children experienced destitution in 2022.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said last month that he believed, “In years to come…people will be asking how it was that government walked by on the other side when thousands of children were suffering abject deprivation, and failed to support them in their hours of need.”

There has also been alarm in recent days after Paul Johnson, the director of the influential think tank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said that pensioners will be “substantial net losers” as a result from the budget. In his analysis, he said : “Well over 60% of pensioners now pay income tax. Income tax changes will leave most of them £650 a year worse off by 2027, and over £3,000 a year worse off if they are higher rate tax payers.”

Margaret Greenwood also used her speech to highlight government cuts to local authorities in recent years. Figures from the House of Commons Library show that Wirral saw a 28.6% real-terms drop in settlement funding between 2015-16 and 2023-24. These cuts have led to the loss of Woodchurch swimming pool and leisure centre, as well as council-run libraries in Hoylake, Pensby, Irby and Woodchurch. There was also a 54% drop in real-terms spending on youth services in Wirral between 2012/13 and 2022/23.

The Wirral West MP also raised concerns about the impact of government underfunding in other areas since 2010, including the NHS and social care, police and fire services, the insufficient support for the seven million adults who are functionally illiterate and the cuts to legal aid which have left people in Wirral without access to justice in areas such as housing and social security. She spoke of the failure of government to address the impact of austerity.

Speaking after the debate, Margaret Greenwood MP said:

“This budget has failed to address the acute challenges that our country is facing. 

“The Chancellor has merely thrown crumbs to 14 million people who are living in poverty, including around four million children.

“He has provided a measly six-month extension of the household support fund, a scheme that aims to help people who are vulnerable or cannot pay for essentials.

“Does he think that after September there will no longer be people who need help with the cost of food and utilities? The government seems to have no concern for the plight of millions who are really struggling.

“The Chancellor’s treatment of pensioners was shameful too. Many more will be worse off due to changes to income tax. Why is he punishing them?

“The last 14 years of Conservative rule has seen brutal cuts with more planned for the years ahead.

“Where was the funding in this budget to address the devastating impact of years of austerity?

“Ultimately, this is a budget from a government that lacks any ambition to serve the majority across the country.

“The Conservative legacy is one of decimated public services and appalling levels of poverty and inequality.

“It is time that we have a government who will give an immediate injection of funding to public services and work to ensure that no one suffers poverty.”