Raise productivity and cut welfare say Tories

Health workers forced to take strike action – demanding that every health worker gets a 1% increase!
Health workers forced to take strike action – demanding that every health worker gets a 1% increase!

RATHER that waiting to make a statement to the new parliament, Tory Chancellor George Osborne announced through the Sun newspaper on Saturday that he will deliver a new Budget on 8th July.

He claimed it would have ‘a laser-like focus’ on raising productivity and living standards.

He claimed he was making the unprecedented move of having a second Budget in one year in order to ‘deliver on the commitments we have made to working people’.

Speaking later outside 11 Downing Street, Osborne gave a broad outline of his plans for the forthcoming Budget but refused to be drawn on the details, including the Tories’ planned £12bn of welfare cuts.

He merely said the new Budget will ‘continue with the balanced plan we have to deal with our debts, invest in our health service and reform welfare to make work pay.

‘But there will also be a laser-like focus on making our economy more productive so we raise living standards across our country.’

Presumably this is why he will be bringing in new anti-union laws.

The last Budget was held on 18th March and included tax cuts for first-time house buyers.

Writing in the Sun, Osborne admitted it was ‘unusual’ to have two Budgets in the same year, but he wanted to turn ‘promises made in the election into a reality’.

He pledged more cuts saying that he will make the welfare system ‘fair for the people who pay for it’.

He added: ‘We will protect the NHS and give it more funding each and every year, while making savings across Whitehall.’

Osborne also announced that at least verbally he will be breaking new ground stating: ‘We’ll crack down hard on tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning by the rich – because everyone should pay their fair share.

‘We will always protect the most vulnerable, but we also need a welfare system that’s fair to the people who pay for it. If you can work you should be working, so we’ll take the next steps in our benefit reforms to make sure that happens.’

With 8.98 million UK workers between 16 and 64 ‘economically inactive’, Osborne wrote: ‘ We’ve got to go on helping businesses create jobs in Britain, so we move towards full employment.

‘That means facing a hard truth: in Britain we produce about a quarter less for every hour we work than countries like America or Germany. Fixing that long-running productivity weakness is the big challenge for the next five years.

‘So in the Budget we’ll spend less on welfare, and instead invest to create three million more apprenticeships, so that young people can learn a trade, get better jobs and earn more.’

Making the point that he was not addressing trade unionists, Osborne wrote: ‘In the last few months I’ve visited so many different workplaces, from brickworks to bakeries, boatyards to breweries and call centres to construction sites.

‘The working people I’ve met don’t have pressure groups or big trade unions to represent them. But they are the heart and soul of this country. Without your efforts we’d have nothing.

‘While the growing farce of the Labour leadership contest shows it does not and cannot represent working people, we’re rolling up our sleeves and getting on with the job.’

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, Chris Leslie, said: ‘Two Budgets in four months from the same Chancellor raises questions about what he’s planning. The country cannot afford a sharp turn to the right – that would hardly be consistent with a “long-term plan”.

‘We need a balanced approach and a focus on building a more productive economy.’