Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP

for Streatham (and parts of Balham, Clapham Common, Tulse Hill and Brixton Hill)

Budget 2023: Austerity is a Political Choice, Not an Economic Necessity

Mar 20, 2023 | Parliamentary Work

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When people struggle to make their falling wages stretch to meet soaring housing, heating, electricity and food bills, backbench Tories love to say that they “can’t budget”. But this month, the Government put down a Reverse Robin Hood budget which showed us who’s really incapable of budgeting.

They chose to reward those responsible for inflation with a cumulative £29 billion in tax handouts whilst leaving ordinary people to suffer its consequences. The average household will see their disposable income shrinking by record amounts over the next two years.

A tax handout to the top 1% is becoming a recurring theme of Tory Budgets, with the Government electing to remove the lifetime allowance on pension savings. They claim this is an attempt to retain doctors but the maths doesn’t add up. Even the right-leaning Institute for Fiscal Studies describes this approach as using a “golden sledgehammer to crack a nut”.

Meanwhile, most households are facing an effective £400 energy bill hike and another one in three months’ time. Benefits claimants face harsher sanctions as the Tories step up their scapegoating but there was nothing to address stagnant wages, nothing on the cost of rent crisis, and nothing to repair crumbling public services, which will instead see a £22 billion stealth hit in the coming years.

After thirteen years, the evidence of exactly where austerity leads is all around us: longer food bank queues, more rough sleeping, falling pay packets, in-work poverty, spiralling living costs, terminally low productivity, stalling life expectancy. We need an alternative. I spoke and voted against their Budget in Parliament. Austerity is a political choice; not an economic necessity.