My Column in the Morley Observer & Advertiser

It was supposed to be the ‘Robin Hood’ Budget but with the vast majority of ordinary families round here being asked to pay more, so millionaires can pay less, it was really the Sheriff of Nottingham who was on the prowl last Wednesday.

And you don’t have to walk far from my office on Albion Street to hear the concerns of local families. 

“The cost of fuel at the pumps is ruining lives and businesses,” one Morley man wrote in his letter to me. But on this key issue for the drivers of Morley there was no good news at all. Petrol will actually go up 3p in August, even with prices already at a record high.

“Too many family budgets are already stretched,” a local mum told me. Yet after the Budget a Morley family with children, on just £20,000 a year will be left worse off by around £253 a year from this April.

“It’s unfair to impose penalties for being unable to find extra hours of work,” another mum wrote. I totally agree with her. It’s madness that cuts in tax credits will leave thousands of working parents better off quitting work from next month.

There was bad news for pensioners too. Thousands of local pensioners who pay income tax will lose an average of £83 per year next April. And people turning 65 next year will lose up to £322.

Yet while these Morley families and pensioners struggle, the Budget gave a tax cut to the very richest people, none of whom, I’ll venture, live round here. 14,000 people nationwide earn £1 million a year. They’ll all get a tax boost of around £40,000 a year. The money that’s costing could have been used to cut fuel duty or reverse unfair and perverse cuts to tax credits. It could have been used to reduce cuts to police forces, or to help pay the down the deficit. But it wasn’t.

And if the big stories weren’t bad enough there was more bad news in the small print too. Fixed caravans, which are holiday homes for loads of Morleians, are set to be slapped with 20% VAT for the first time. Even the cost of a Greggs sausage roll will go up.

Of course there have to be tough decisions on tax, spending and pay. And in the long run, the only way out of the problems in the economy is with a clear plan for jobs and growth so we can get people off the dole and into work, paying taxes. 

But things could be done in a much fairer way. How can it be right to be giving millionaires a tax cut while ordinary families and pensioners have to pay more?

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Posted March 28th, 2012 by Ed