It’s perhaps unsurprising that Hastings’ Conservative MP and the man who will be her direct rival when the next General Election is held hold divergent views when it comes to their assessments of yesterday’s Budget speech by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond.
While Ms Rudd says the Budget means, “…more money in the pockets of people who need it most…”. Mr Chowney says the Budget was: “…a deeply cynical exercise and will leave a lot of people in more deprived areas worse off.”
So here, in full, is what each politician has to say…
Hastings’ Conservative MP Amber Rudd welcomes the Chancellor’s 2018 Budget
Ms Rudd points out that the budget will see increased investment in public services, with a 1.2 per cent increase in real terms spending every year.
She says: “A significant portion of funding will go towards the NHS, which will see £20.5 billion more in real terms funding by 2023-2024. This will include £2 billion more towards mental health provision, money that will assist local organisations such as Southdown Housing and the i-Rock service in Hastings.
“The personal allowance will be raised to £12,500, allowing more take home pay for working people. This will mean typical people pay £1,205 less in tax compared to 2010. Families will also be helped with the cost of living by increasing the National Living Wage from £7.83 to £8.21 an hour; effectively £690 more per year going to full time workers.
“Support will also be given to high streets such as in Hastings and Rye, which will enjoy a 30 per cent reduction in business rates if they have a rateable value of under £51,000. This will save 90 per cent of high street retailers up to £8,000 each year.
“An additional £1.7 billion per year will go into the Universal Credit system to help benefit working families and the Government will increase the amount families can earn before losing benefits. This means more money in the pockets of people who need it most.”
Ms Rudd says: “I am pleased to see a balanced and sensible approach being taken by our Government toward public finances which has allowed for greater investment in our public services alongside breaks for small businesses and working people.
“This is good news for our communities in areas like Hastings and Rye. I am especially pleased to see increased funding for mental health services. This is particularly good for our area, which has seen some excellent organisations recently set up and deliver important services for young and vulnerable people alike.
“I also look forward to seeing what our local businesses will do with the savings they will make on business rates. Our high streets are home to many unique and independent retailers and I am delighted that it is clear our Government is here to support them.”
Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Peter Chowney says Budget will leave people in deprived areas of Hastings & Rye worse off by £400 per annum
Mr Chowney says: “This Budget was a deeply cynical exercise and will leave a lot of people in more deprived areas worse off.
“It amounts to an admission that Universal Credit has hurt people. Hastings saw the earliest roll out of Universal Credit, residents became guinea pigs for a system that had major flaws built into it and was designed to punish people for being poor rather than offering them support.
“Three-quarters of the £12 billion in welfare cuts announced after the 2015 election remain government policy. The overall package of tax and benefit changes announced since 2015 will deliver an average gain of £390 for the richest fifth of households in 2023-24, compared to an average loss of £400 for the poorest fifth. It has forced Hastings people to use food banks more than ever before.
“These changes do nothing to help vulnerable households who have suffered the most from austerity.
“Further, hidden in the Chancellor’s Red Book small print is another £7 billion in cuts to public services, the impact of which will only be realised in the years ahead, aside from what will happen if there is no deal on Brexit.
“Of particular concern locally is the lack of money for Police recruitment to help tackle street drinking and anti-Social behaviour following £57 million in cuts in eight years to the Sussex force. There was also no hint of an ending to the continuing cuts to council budgets, which have led to a system of local authority funding that has become unsustainable and will mean that councils can no longer provide even the most basic statutory services.
“Overall, this budget is little more than window-dressing, designed to capture a few favourable headlines without dealing with the massive problems of collapsing public services and increasing poverty that is affecting the more deprived constituencies such as Hastings & Rye particularly badly.”