GEORGE Osborne’s budget got a mixed reaction from Wearsiders.
The Chancellor claimed he was on the side of ‘the makers, the doers and the savers’ as he unveiled his latest financial plan to the Commons.
Highlights included a rise in the basic income tax threshold, changes to tax rules on retirement pots and new-style flexibile ISAs,which will allow people to save up to £15,000 tax-free.
Crowd-pleasing measures included scrapping the tax escalator on wine and spirits, a penny off a pint of beer, and freezing the “carbon floor” price, in a bid to take £15 off consumers’ energy bills.
“The message from this Budget is: you have earned it; you have saved it; and this Government is on your side, whether you’re on a low or middle income, whether you’re saving for your home, for your family or for your retirement,” Mr Osborne told MPs.
But Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson said: “George Osborne might try and distract people with a shiny new pound coin, but the fact is working people in my constituency have on average 1,600 less of them in their pocketm, thanks to this Government’s cost of living crisis, while 13,000 millionaires, like David Cameron, have benefited from a tax cut of £100,000 a year.
“If my constituents were looking to this Budget for real help now with their cost of living, or for action on low wages or jobs, then they’ll have been sorely disappointed.”
Elizabeth Dunn, 69, from Peterlee, said making it easier for pensioners to save was no use: “I suppose if you have got money to spare, you need to be able to put it somewhere. But most people are too busy having to spend it.”
Self-employed builder Gary Ward was more enthusiastic. He and wife Karen, from Silksworth, have two children and will benefit from help with childcare costs as well as seeing more money in their pocket as a result of the tax cut.
The 46-year-old said: “If you are self-employed, more time to earn before you have to start paying tax is a big help.”
Sunderland University student Iliyara Farfarova was pleased with the announcement of almost £200million to encourage firms to offer new apprenticeships.
The 21-year-old said: “I believe this is a huge step in helping graduates to get the experience they need to star a career.
“This gives a reason to employers to collaborate with new learners.”