Brighton’s two MPs have this afternoon given very different reactions to the spring budget, which featured a rise in national insurance for the self employed, £2bn extra for social care set against a similar drop in council funding and help for
Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby, who was pictured on the steps of 11 Downing Street this morning as part of the government’s treasury team, stuck firmly to the party line in praising measures to keep the economy “fighting fit”.
Meanwhile Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, also co-leader of the Green Party, condemned the “failure” to adequately fund social care and the NHS while pushing ahead with cuts to corporation tax and giving “handouts” to high earners.
Mr Kirby said: “This is a Budget that ensures young people in Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven can get the skills they need to do the high-paid, high-skilled jobs of the future, whilst ensuring more children have the chance to go to a good or outstanding school.
“It helps ordinary working families with the cost of living, and supports the NHS and our elderly by providing substantial funding for the social care system.”
He singled out funding to increase the number of training hours for 16-19 year old further education students by over 50 per cent, with 15 new technical routes and a high-quality work placement for every student.
And he praised a £435 million package, meaning businesses coming out of Small Business Relief will have their increases capped at £50 per month in 2017-18; pubs with a Rateable Value of under £100,000 – 90 per cent of all pubs – will see a £1,000 discount on their 2017 Business Rates bill; and local authorities will receive a further £300 million to target individual hard cases in their areas.
However, Caroline Lucas said that while she welcomed the business rates announcement, the ‘devil will be in the detail’ on the policy.
She said: “The Chancellor’s announcement on business rates is welcome, and couldn’t have come a moment too soon for the Brighton and Hove Business owners I’ve been speaking to who are worried sick about their future. I’ll be monitoring the roll out of this additional support – and continue to lobby for a better deal for small and micro businesses.”
And she added: “This isn’t a Budget that Brighton and Hove can celebrate. Though the news on business rates is welcome, the Government’s failure on NHS and Social care funding – and their refusal to act on air pollution – is utterly inexcusable.
“With our NHS in peril and social care in the midst of a crisis this Budget was a chance for the Government to take a stand for the public services upon which we all rely. Instead they continue to push ahead with planned Corporation tax cuts, and their handout to high earners, while unveiling woefully inadequate funding changes for the NHS and social care.
“The Government’s obsessions with slimming down the state is causing misery – and their refusal to think again on this issue is inexcusable.”