Wednesday, 21 March 2012

THE BUDGET: 'A GREED AGENDA NOT A GREEN AGENDA'

Kent Green Party objects to another Budget of failed opportunities. The Coalition continues to increase inequality, undermine environmental protection and sustainability and undercut efforts by small businesses to increase useful employment. Stuart Jeffery, Chair of Kent Green Party comments:

“The recent Budget will not help Kent and Medway. The real level of unemployment in Kent is about 150,000 and continuing cuts will increase this(1).Before the Budget, the Treasury’s own figures were showing the poorest 10% have lost more income through cuts than any group other than the richest 10%(2). Lower public sector pay in the poorest regions and localities will hit Thanet, Kent’s poorest district, hard(3). About 67% of people were against a cut in the 50p top rate of income tax but were ignored. And a planned rise in the minimum wage has been frozen for young workers(4). We await effective action to cut tax haven activity to increase UK tax revenues(5). Overall, the Coalition is operating a ‘greed agenda’ of rich-supporting policies not a Green agenda of social justice(6).

“What about social housing? Last year the social housing waiting list in Kent and Medway rose from 36,000 to 45,102 households(7) -- a record level, 2.1 times higher than in 1997. Research by the Chartered Institute of Housing (8) suggests that about 20,000 households across our County will lose out through the housing benefit changes, potentially increasing the social housing waiting list by as much as 50%.

“Cutting environmental regulations, under-funding energy conservation and renewable energy and supporting large-scale anti-environment developments are key features of Coalition policies. These policies undermine greater energy efficiency and employment in the private sector, especially in construction. As business organisations have observed(9), businesses continue to be undermined by Government policy towards bank lending. Failure to regulate banks enough has starved small expanding businesses of access to loans at acceptable rates of interest.”

ends

FURTHER INFORMATION: Stuart Jeffery, Chair, KENT GREEN PARTY
07970 436029. Contact address as above. http://www.stuartjeffery.net Alternate contact, Steve Dawe, Press Officer on 07747 036192 or 01732 355185. Please leave message if necessary on any of these numbers and we will try to get back to you shortly. KENT GREEN NEWS, free monthly ezine, is available at www.kentgreenparty.org Published by Kent Green Party and promoted by H.Dawe, both at 27, Audley Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1XF.

Notes:

1. Using the TUC estimate of the real level of unemployment in the UK as a basis for our calculation. See our previous media release on this topic: REAL LEVEL OF UNEMPLOYMENT IN KENT OVER TWICE OFFICIAL FIGURES, 24th February 2012, www.kentgreenparty.org UK-wide, using the Government’s seriously under-estimated figures, there are 1.13 million women unemployed which is a 25 year record and about 1 million 18-24 year olds (Guardian, 18th March 2012).

2. http://www.leftfootforward.org/2012/03/unfair-distributional-analysis-by-decile-charts/

3. The Government wants to reduce public sector pay in the poorest regions and localities in the country, which would drive them deeper into recession as spending by public sector workers sustains jobs in the private sector. This is both an ideological anti-public sector policy and an anti-business policy. Canterbury has a high concentration of public sector jobs since it has many schools and a large higher education sector, meaning further job losses will hit the City hard. David Blanchflower, commenting critically on ‘The Big Society’ ( Independent 19th March 2012) notes that 350,000 public sector jobs have been lost since June 2010 including 35,000 in the supposedly ‘protected’ NHS. Despite the possibilities of raising considerably more tax revenue, Government plans may virtually double public sector job losses by 2015. Opportunities for increasing tax revenues in this Budget which were missed included raising cigarette and alcohol taxation to much higher levels, saving NHS costs long-term if consumption declines in these areas. Also, congestion at airports means Air Passenger Duty is too low, and should be increased significantly so that the public sector infrastructure costs of new airport facilities are avoided long-term.

4. The Guardian, 20th March 2012.

5. The UK is distinguished by having a large proportion of the world’s tax havens operating in areas under its jurisdiction. SEE: Ronen Palan et al – Tax Havens: how globalization really works Cornell University Press, 2010 & Nicholas Shaxson – Treasure Islands: tax havens and the men who stole the world, Bodley Head 2011.

6. The Chancellor cut Corporation Tax to 23% against a European average of about 32%. There is ample evidence that corporations operating in the UK are not paying enough taxes. Barclays recorded massive profits but paid only £113 million in corporation tax in 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/feb/18/barclays-bank-113m-corporation-tax Perhaps as little as 33% of UK companies are actually paying tax: http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2011/06/09/only-33-of-companies-in-the-uk-pay-tax/ Lloyds Bank will not pay corporation tax until its profits reach £15bn: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/8348764/Lloyds-will-not-pay-corporation-tax-until-profits-hit-15bn.html HMRC has let corporations off £25 billion in taxes: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2076358/HMRC-let-big-firms-25bn-taxes-As-families-chased-penny.html And, apart from phasing out tax haven activities in all areas of UK jurisdiction, the Government could have added several new council tax bands at the top of the scale; kept the 50p tax rate and increased revenue by lowering the threshold for this rate to £100,000 instead of £150,000; ensured that corporations pay taxes due on time and that tax avoidance methods used by corporations are removed.

7. Social Housing Waiting List statistics:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/xls/2039614.xls

8. CIH Map here: http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Guardian/documents/2012/01/01/Housing_Benefit.pdf

9. See for example: http://www.fsb.org.uk/News.aspx?loc=pressroom&rec=7585 and note that the Confederation of British Industry does not see £20 billion of ‘credit easing’ as just announced by the Coalition as an adequate long-term policy for business finance: http://www.cbi.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2012/03/cbi-comments-on-national-loan-guarantee-scheme/

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