UK Politics

Budget 2017: Reaction to Philip Hammond's statement

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Labour would oppose an increase to National Insurance contributions, calling it a "£2bn Tory tax on self-employed, low and middle earners".

"Tory tax hikes whilst doing nothing to address the crisis in our NHS - Tory Budget failure," he said.

Conservative MP David Gauke, chief secretary to the Treasury, said that cuts in corporation tax and changes to capital gains tax were all "very helpful to small businesses".

It's very dull, it's unflashy, but it is not sorting out the biggest problem we face

Douglas Carswell, UKIP MP

SNP economic spokesman Stewart Hosie criticised the chancellor for a Budget speech that had "barely a mention of Brexit, the most momentous challenge" and said Mr Hammond had failed to outline what he would do to "mitigate the damage which we would expect".

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: "Targeting the self-employed, hitting white-van man with a tax hike betrays Theresa May's pledge to help the just about managing."

Green Party MP and party co-leader Caroline Lucas said: "This Budget should have been an emergency intervention to end the chaos in health and social care and address the air pollution emergency, but instead it's another resounding failure from a government that's got no ideas beyond an obsession with scaling back the state."

UKIP MP Douglas Carswell said: "It's very dull, it's unflashy, but it is not sorting out the biggest problem we face which is accumulation of public debt."

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said the Budget prepared the UK for a "brighter future" as it enters Brexit negotiations and attacked MPs who "feel that Brexit has only been properly mentioned if it's mentioned in negative terms".

Plaid Cymru Treasury spokesman, Jonathan Edwards MP, said it was a "high tax, low wage budget" and said: "Taxes are at their highest in a generation and wages are still falling."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "Today's London Devolution Agreement shows that we get the best deal for Londoners when we put party politics aside and work closely with the government.

"I am pleased that the chancellor has recognised that giving London more control is vital if we are to protect jobs and investment in the aftermath of Brexit.

"London has a bigger population than Wales and Scotland combined, but we have far less control over how taxes are spent and public services are run."

"The forgotten part of the 'Jam' [just about managing] generation

Unison's Dave Prentis on public service workers

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said the Budget was "extraordinary".

"The biggest challenge facing the UK economy for generations, Brexit, and the government's preparedness for dealing with it, only received a passing mention," he said.

British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall said: "Businesses had been advised to expect minimal change, rather than a blockbuster Budget, and Philip Hammond did not disappoint."

Federation of Small Businesses chairman Mike Cherry said the chancellor had taken a "direct and much-needed response" to the impending rises in business rates.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "The chancellor missed the opportunity to get Britain match-fit for Brexit by investing in jobs and infrastructure."

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "This much-needed government support will save the sector over £24m and will help safeguard investment and jobs."

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said public service workers were "the forgotten part of the 'Jam' [just about managing] generation" and "most are not managing at all".

Although the extra money for social care was welcome, "it doesn't even come close to making up the funding cut since 2010 and won't stop extreme rationing of care," he added.

Huge chunks of unnecessary spending... could be wiped out in an instant

John O'Connell, Taxpayers' Alliance

Local Government Association chairman Lord Porter said the announcement that councils would receive £2bn extra funding for social care over the next three years marked a "significant step" towards protecting services, but added councils "must have full flexibility over how they use this funding".

The Institute For Public Policy Research's chief economist, Catherine Colebrook, said: "Today's Budget had the feel of a 'warm-up' for the main event later this year, with Philip Hammond banking much of the fiscal headroom gifted to him by the latest forecasts, and favouring reviews of the biggest policy questions - such as how to fund social care properly - rather than immediate action."

CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn said: "There has never been a more important time for the UK to sit at the global top table of technical education for young people."

Living Wage Foundation director Katherine Chapman said: "Low-paid workers will be the worst hit by the rise in inflation set out in today's budget forecasts."

GMB general secretary Tim Roache said the Budget should have provided a plan for fair pay and support for all workers.

"Instead, the Tories showed how out of touch they are by failing to help these dedicated public servants - all the while giving tax breaks to big business," he said.

Taxpayers' Alliance chief executive John O'Connell warned the national debt was "still astronomical and growing".

"There are huge chunks of unnecessary spending that could be wiped out in an instant, such as cancelling [the high-speed rail project] HS2, which would help to balance the budget as we disentangle ourselves from the EU," he said.

Institute of Directors director general Stephen Martin said: "The 'nothing to see here' approach adopted by the chancellor will only fly for so long.

"Business leaders will applaud the long-term focus on improving technical skills and investment in research and development, but the business community will have hoped for much more support in the immediate term, especially amid such economic and political uncertainty."

Institute of Economic Affairs director general Mark Littlewood said the chancellor had "defused one bomb" by providing relief for business rate rises.

But he added: "He has definitely exploded another bomb with this rise in NICs [National Insurance contributions] for the self-employed."

Torsten Bell, of the Resolution Foundation, a think tank on living standards for low to middle income earners, said increasing the tax on self-employed workers was "the right thing to do".

The self-employed now had many of the same rights as those in full-time employment, so it was fairer and better for the public finances to tax them more, he said.

[They] must ensure that all of this money benefits social care

Vicky McDermott, Care and Support Alliance

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: "To really 'prepare Britain for a brighter future', the chancellor should have used this moment to gain an advantage by boldly backing offshore wind power, supporting solar and driving consumers towards cleaner cars.

"But he failed even to address the pressing issue of air pollution or to mention renewables at all."

Child Poverty Action Group chief executive Alison Garnham: said: "The language may have changed from Jams [just about managing] to ordinary working families, but the result still was a thin-gruel Budget for parents trying to get on, the very people the prime minister has said she would prioritise."

MS Society chief executive Michelle Mitchell said the charity welcomed the government's £2bn cash boost for social care in England, but it was "not a long-term fix" and the government needed to find a solution.

Vicky McDermott, who chairs the Care and Support Alliance, said the government "must ensure that all of this money benefits social care" and it "must act quickly on longer term reforms".

Sue Baxter, who chairs the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), said: "The last-ever spring Budget provided an opportunity to consider the possibility of a more radical approach to the operation of the UK's public finances, with communities and local people at the heart of it - but sadly this was a missed opportunity."

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