Chancellor George Osborne unveiled a number of new measures in his first entirely Conservative Budget, with changes coming into force over the course of the current parliament. Announcements of a National Living Wage and changes to Corporation Tax were met with cheers of support from the Government, while those in the opposition expressed a range of opinions.
Harriet Harman, Interim Leader of the Labour party, responded: ‘This Budget is less about economic strategy, more about political tactics designed by the Chancellor to help him move in next door. We know this Chancellor is ambitious. But when the economic recovery is still fragile, he should be ambitious for the country, not just for himself’.
She added: ‘With last month’s cancellation of the railway electrification, the great “Northern Powerhouse” is starting to look like the great Northern power-cut’.
In response to the Chancellor’s comments on skills and productivity, she said: ‘It’s not as if people aren’t working hard. But the things that turn their work into high productivity – skills, investment and infrastructure – are not there for them’.
With regards to the announcement of a national living wage, Ms Harman said: ‘Clearly what honourable members do not understand is that even with the higher national wage that he’s announced it will not be enough for a family to live on because of the cuts in tax credits’.
Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said: ‘For all its talk about striving, aspiration and creating a Northern Powerhouse, this budget has delivered none of it. It shows that the Conservatives, devoid of fresh ideas, have simply rehashed old ones that were rejected over the last few years’.
Stewart Hosie, SNP Treasury spokesman at Westminster, said the Budget will ‘hit hard working families, the poorest and young people hardest’.
He added: ‘This Budget was a sermon from the high priest of an austerity cult – taking from the poor and hard working people and giving to the richest’.