“Decidedly lacking” – 2017 Spring Budget Reaction

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It was a decidedly lacking budget, merely delivering more of the same; and doing nothing to tackle the social and environmental issues of our time.  While the extra funding for social care was welcome, there was plenty not to like. The lack of any reference to the shared society was a particular theme running through a number of civil society reactions.

Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK described the budget as one which won’t deliver the radical change the economy needs, adding, “Overall we’ve got used to seeing no references to social enterprise in the Budget. But to see no mention of social investment, of even inclusive business or shared society, of mutuals and barely a mention of charities is a worrying sign that the government may have completely lost sight of the value of the social economy.”

Hannah Terrey, Head of Policy and Campaigns at the Charities Aid Foundation, said, “Although the Chancellor did not mention the Prime Minister’s vision of a ‘Shared Society’, his pledge to make Britain stronger, fairer and better will require the Government to work hand in hand with charities in order to deliver this promise and to bring a divided country back together.”

Meanwhile, NCVO described the chancellor’s decision not to spend as significant saying, “While the chancellor projected a vision of strength for the UK economy, the overall context for charities remains one of austerity well into the next parliament, with a further £3.5bn of departmental cuts due to be announced later in the year.”

In a similar vein, Neil Cleevley, Chief executive of NAVCA said, “This may have been a slightly more upbeat budget than we have come to expect in recent years but, as hundreds of foodbanks testify, poverty is still at unacceptable levels. Spending cuts are still going too far and hitting these with the least hardest.”

Reaction from trade unions was particularly scathing. The Trades Union Congress said, “Today the Chancellor missed the opportunity to get Britain match-fit for Brexit by investing in jobs and infrastructure. The government promised an economy that works for everyone. But millions of low-income workers face cuts to in-work support, while big business is handed a huge tax cut.”

The National Union of Teachers described the budget speech as a dereliction of duty to our children and young people, adding, “Instead of tackling this crisis of their own making, we now learn that extra funding will pour into the opening of new free schools and grammar schools for which there is absolutely no need. Parents and teachers will be deeply dismayed at this flagrant and irresponsible waste of money. These are simply the wrong priorities.”

As we’ve come to expect from the Conservative government, the Chancellor all but ignored environmental issues, prompting Friends of the Earth to slam what it describes as his “continued addiction to climate wrecking fossil fuels.”

Overall, the tone of all these reactions is perhaps best summed up by the New Economics Forum, who said, “We are facing the biggest economic challenge in decades. Work is precarious, wages are not yet at their pre-crash level, the housing crisis is worsening and inflation is looming…This Budget was a chance to take the first steps towards an economy that really puts people in control. Instead we got a patch-up job that postpones the difficult choices for a future after Brexit.”

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