23 Mar 2011
Caroline Lucas today branded the Chancellor's statement "a budget for bankers," saying it put the interests of international finance and big business above those of ordinary people or the environment.
"George Osborne has made cutting the deficit his one and only goal. This may please City bankers and international investors, but it means more unemployment, greater poverty, and decimated public services.
"It is also a huge missed opportunity to turn our environmental and energy crisis into an engine for a sustainable future. Investing in energy efficiency and renewables now would stabilise the economy, help people reduce their bills, help end fuel poverty and make us less dependent on oil and gas from overseas.
"Instead, the Government is cutting support for UK companies trying to lead this energy revolution, even though it has found £5 billion in tax cuts for biggest companies.(1)
"It has also turned the much-hyped Green Investment Bank into a PR stunt by preventing it from raising funds." (2)
The Green Party's alternative budget called for:
• support for the development of a sustainable economy in place of unsustainable growth,
• a crack-down on tax evasion and avoidance, with banks and corporations paying their full share,
• the extra revenue used to support public services, in place of cuts.
Caroline Lucas continued: "The Government's budget plans are not the only option, despite Osborne's claims. A combination of intelligent investment and reduced tax avoidance could have provided financial stability and also avoided job losses and service cuts. He and his Conservative and Liberal Democrat colleagues have instead chosen to follow the bankers' agenda of cutting public services as deeply as possible while privatizing what is left.
"The Chancellor says there is no money to protect services such as schools, libraries and hospitals. But he can find the £3 billion it will cost to break up the NHS ready for privatization (3) or the £3.6 billion in extra subsidy for the nuclear industry. (4)
"Further, the Office of Budget Responsibility has predicted that the borrowing requirement this year will be £2.5 billion less than expected. (5)
"But instead of using at least a proportion of this to avoid some of the worst of the planned cuts, he is holding it back - presumably to fund tax cuts ahead of the next election.
1) The Treasury's own projections are that the reductions in Corporation Tax announced in the June 2010 and today's budgets will reach £5.175 billion a year by 2015/16. See pages 42 and 44 of the Red Book.
2) The Green Investment Bank will not be able to raise funds until 2015 and then only if other fiscal targets are met: Red Book 1.112 (page 33)
3) Professor Walsh in the British Medical Journal: July 2010
4) £3.43 billion is the estimated windfall gain for the UK nuclear industry from the introduction of a carbon floor price: source WWF
6 Mar 2011
Welcome to the latest update. Details below on the Council’s austerity budget, some important street issues and a reminder about upcoming elections and the referendum on voting reform.
This month, Wirral Council confirmed its budget for the forthcoming financial year. On top of the 1,100 members of staff who have already been made redundant, the budget confirmed the closure of five care and respite homes across the borough.
The Tory leader of the Council continues to spin the line that “no part of Wirral will be left behind”. Perhaps he would like to take a walk around Tranmere and define precisely what he means by this. 24 years of neglect under Labour and now we have policies which are already lengthening the dole queues. All this before the Council’s drastic budget reductions come into force. The coming months will see the full effects of the disastrous economic policies being pursued by the ConDems both locally and nationally. In particular, the impact of a 20% reduction in Council employees on the quality of services and the conditions for those employees left behind will, I believe, become all too apparent.
Thankfully, more and more people are reacting against this and supporting the Green Party position that fairer taxation and targeted investment is the key to getting us out of Labour’s debt hole. The Uk Uncut campaign to force corporations to pay their fair share is gaining huge momentum, including here on Merseyside. You can also check out a brief summary of the Green Party position on deficit reduction on my web site..
Some especially noteworthy street issues this month.
Firstly, many thanks to all those residents who signed our petition opposing Wirral Council’s plans to close Trinity Lane (off Price Street). This case was up before Birkenhead Magistrates Court on March 3rd. I attended the Court and pre-hearing discussions with the solicitor representing the Council means the case has been postponed. This is to facilitate discussions between myself on behalf of local residents and the Council. Naturally, I’ll be updating you in future reports but already we have shown that the Council cannot easily ignore the wishes of local residents who have effective representation.
Secondly, on Pearson Road/Holt Hill Terrace there was a major wall collapse during the freezing weather. Naturally, local residents have been very concerned about this. I spoke with a member of Council staff during the week. I have been assured that the temporary measures currently in place will only continue for a further six weeks or so. The wall is then due to be rebuilt using matching brick work.
May 5th sees the next round of local elections and naturally I’ll be hoping for your support on the day. I hope you’ll agree that the horrible mess left by Labour and the disastrous response of the new coalition means we desperately need a fresh voice that will seek to reverse 25 years of neglect across Birkenhead and Tranmere. Our position is clearly laid out in our latest ward newsletter which you can now access online.
May 5th also sees a referendum on the voting system. The current first past the post system is totally unacceptable in a modern democracy and is only favoured by those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. A switch to the AV (alternative vote) system will allow you to rank candidates in your order of preference. It therefore gives you a greater say and ensures the winning candidate gets at least 50% of the vote. While the AV system is not ideal and is a long way from a truly proportional system where every vote counts equally, it is at least an improvement on first past the post. Therefore, I would encourage you to vote YES.