East Lothian Courier – 14 March 2024


The budget dominated Westminster last week. As reported it was mostly about electioneering rather than addressing the needs of the economy or our society. Of course, as in all these major pronouncements there are aspects to welcome.

One such was a reduction in National Insurance which will benefit many who are working yet struggling. However, for many it’s almost entirely wiped out by a failure to increase tax thresholds and for pensioners of no benefit at all. The Tory budget has continued the manifest injustice that too many on low incomes whether wages or pensions are paying tax, either at all or at too high a rate. Meanwhile, far too many are paying no tax or very limited tax yet possess immense wealth or assets, never mind placing their finance offshore.

There was similar duplicity in the freezing of alcohol duty. This will neither benefit our health nor help the hard-pressed hospitality sector. As things stand the benefit will go to the large corporations producing alcohol and in further profits to the supermarkets who sell the bulk of it. What should have happened is that duty for pubs and hotels should have been reduced whilst that for the off-sale trade increased. We should be supporting those premises which are part of the fabric of our communities with the cost born by those corporations making money hand over fist.

Fundamentally the Budget has failed to provide for public services. These are declining and struggling at all levels of government. Funding them is as essential as ensuing that it’s those with wealth that do so not the folk with little or nothing.

Services are being cut back, delays lengthening, and costs increasing. Affordable housing is limited and house prices are rising. That cannot continue as the damage and dangers are severe. This budget failed to provide the additional funding badly needed but is leading towards further cuts and crises. Homelessness and want will be exacerbated.

What’s most surprising’s that Labour and Tory seem to agree upon it. It seems that a change of government isn’t to mean a change in policy. That’s disgraceful