Mebyon Kernow has welcomed the Government’s partial u-turns on tax credits and police funding, but we have also condemned the Conservatives for pushing ahead with other damaging cuts in today’s Spending Review.
It is certainly good news that George Osborne has been forced to retreat from his shocking plans to both reduce funding for local police forces and slash tax credits for the working poor.
It shows that strong political campaigns can succeed and I would like to congratulate everyone who played their part in putting pressure on the Chancellor to perform these much needed u-turns.
But the Spending Review still includes devastating cuts – many hidden in the small print – that will do great harm to communities across Cornwall.
Many people have commented that the extent of cuts in the Spending Review is not as severe as anticipated, because of new estimates from the Office for Budget Responsibility which suggest that public finances will be £27 billion better off by the end of the parliament.
But I remain sceptical about the new projections given that other recent reports have been starker in terms of tax-take, and the Chancellor’s real agenda.
However George Osborne spins his announcements, he cannot mask his ideological commitment to reduce spending from 45% of “national income” to only 36.5% by 2020.
He is still pushing ahead with £12 billion in welfare cuts including housing benefit changes, and he has massively reduced funding to a host of departments including transport, business and the environment.
And he is continuing with yet more devastating cuts to local government, having announced that he plans to entirely phase out grants to local councils by 2020. This is a shocking blow that even the Government’s own councillors are saying is truly unsustainable.
It all seems pretty grim to me.