Bridget Phillipson: ‘Unpopular and flawed’

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The recent budget announced by Chancellor George Obsorne offered little for Wearside.

It will be remembered as one of the most unpopular and flawed budgets for decades.

There were two crucial tests Osborne faced – whether the measures would create jobs and growth and whether it would be a fair budget. On both counts, he failed.

The economy continues to flat-line and unemployment stands at a 17-year high. Youth unemployment needs to be tackled. We have seen in the past how it blights both individual lives and whole communities.

We needed action to kickstart the economy. Instead the Chancellor accelerated plans for localised pay in the public sector.

This will have a devastating impact on the North East economy. It will suck demand out of the region and drive down wages for both public and private sector workers alike.

Business leaders have joined trades unions in voicing their concerns. I agree with the North East Chamber of Commerce that the budget did little on the whole to address the challenges businesses face here.

Families and pensioners have also been hit hard by Osborne’s plans. Independent figures show that from this month families with children will lose an average of £511 a year.

Many parents will find themselves better off on benefits than in work because of tax credit changes. From next year, 4.5 million pensioners will be worse off thanks to the so-called granny tax.

Pensioners who worked hard, saved and tried to do the right thing will lose out. Both families and pensioners on low and modest incomes will take a hit so that the wealthiest people in our society can contribute less.

The Chancellor has made an extraordinary political choice to prioritise a tax cut for millionaires at the expense of millions of pensioners and hard working families.

The empty slogan of ‘we’re all in this together’ has now been exposed for the nonsense that it always was. We won’t be hearing George Osborne utter those words any time soon.

I’ve long campaigned for changes to our bus network and I’m backing Nexus’ plans to look at introducing a system called Quality Contracts across Tyne and Wear.

I believe it would deliver better value for the taxpayer, more integrated ticketing and give local people a greater say. As things stand, we’re at the whim of private bus operators who pull routes and increase fares with minimal notice or consultation.

I knew it wouldn’t take long for the operators to begin scaremongering about redundancies and make threats about what they might do it Quality Contracts are introduced.

They have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. After all, they make big profits year on year and can largely do as they please. In the months ahead the operators’ expensive PR machines will swing into action.

My advice is to look at what’s actually being proposed and reach your own conclusions.