'Nightmare before Christmas' - Sunderland leaders slam Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's Autumn Statement budget update
Political leaders across Sunderland have been sharing their reactions to the Government’s autumn statement.
There was mixed news for families coping with the cost of living crisis, with the energy price cap set to rise by £300 from April but additional cost-of-living payments for the “most vulnerable”.
The rise in rents for tenants in homes owned by social housing providers, such as Sunderland’s Gentoo, will be capped at a maximum of 7%, while the national living wage will rise by 9.7%, to £10.42, from April.
Working age and disability benefits and state pensions will increase in line with inflation, but Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott said the country was in the grip of “a crisis made in Downing Street and paid for by the working people”.
“Jeremy Hunt’s plans are proof that the Conservative answer to every problem is to put the burden on the shoulders of hardworking people,” she said.
"No changes to non-dom status, no change to the lifting of the banker’s bonus cap, and yet more public spending cuts.
“After three Prime Ministers and four Chancellors just this year, the Conservatives can no longer claim to be the party of economic stability – the only answer is a change in government.”
Other measures announced include:
*Scrapping Vehicle Excise Duty on electric vehicles, such as the Sunderland-built Nissan Leaf, from April 2025
*Raising the windfall tax on oil and gas giants will rise from from 25% to 35%
*A 45% levy on electricity generators, expected to raise £14 billion next year
*An elected mayor for “an area in the North East”
Houghton and Sunderland South colleague Bridget Phillipson accused the Government of trying to fix problems of its own making.
She said: “Britain has so much potential, but right now we're facing a Tory economic crisis that’s holding us back.
"After today, people will be asking themselves ‘Am I and my family better off with the Tories?’ – The answer is no.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness accused the Chancellor of failing to end ‘a North South divide in police and public service funding’ after the financial update failed to mention funding for fighting crime.
Easington MP Grahame Morris said the public was being forced to pick up the tab for a "£30 billion black hole” created by the disastrous mini-budget implemented by former Prime Minister Liz Truss.
"People are already struggling, and the Autumn Statement is the nightmare before Christmas,” he said.
"The Government are increasing taxes, cutting spending and reducing energy support.
"They crashed the mortgage market, trashed the pound and led the country into a recession.
"This is austerity 2.0 – it didn't work the first time, it won't work this time.
Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson added: “This latest mini budget shows that the Tories management of the economy is holding Britain back.
"We are all suffering from an economic crisis in Downing Street, and now, they are making working people pay for it.”