Friday, 22 March 2013

A BUDGET FOR AN ASPRIN NATION

It was more like a budget for an aspirin nation, along the lines of an economic take two aspirin and it will be better in the morning, than a budget for an aspiration nation. The problem is that George Osborne’s Budget brings scant benefit to the Welsh economy and provides clear indication that Con Dem Treasury policies are failing Wales.

The Chancellor’s not unsurprisingly failed to transfer key job-creating powers from Westminster to Wales something that means his Budget will fail to boost demand in the Welsh economy and prevent vital investment in major infrastructure projects.There was a basic failure to accept that Plan A, such as it was, has failed.

It’s time to try something different (Plan B perhaps) and to adopt a range of progressive policies including reversing the tax cut for those earning over £3,000 a week which is still due to be implemented in April 2013. Once again a Westminster Government has failed to cut its cloth to match reality as the pursuit of World Power Status continues with the Trident renewal which is set to cost £100 billion pounds over the lifetime of a new system carries on.

The Chancellor also failed to make progress on introducing a Financial Transaction (the Robin Hood) Tax that would raise £20 billion a year and help curb the speculative behaviour in the financial sector which caused the crash in the first place and the decision to scrap the stamp duty on shares trading is a regressive move as it’s the only thing in the UK currently resembling this tax.

There are some positives such as the announcement on childcare support which is a positive move but even this does not help people on tax credits or universal credit as those on the lowest incomes will still face the greatest barriers to finding work. The scrapping of the planned rise in fuel costs was also a positive, but the opportunity to sort out a longer-term solution with a fuel duty stabiliser to prevent soaring prices at the pump, was missed.

The announcement of the £10,000 tax threshold is also welcome as it will help people on lowers incomes, something that Plaid has long supported. Despite the few positives, ordinary families in Wales are still set to pay the price for the failings of the banks and the self-defeating policies of the Treasury.

Most importantly for Wales, what the Chancellor should have announced is the implementation of the recommendations made by the Silk Commission. This would have ensured that we in Wales have control over the levers that would allow investment in major infrastructure projects, creating jobs and boost demand in the economy.

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