I believe that this year’s Budget is deeply concerning for Flintshire. It will harm the self-employed and sees no growth deal for the North Wales region.
At the start of the Budget the Chancellor announced the Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecast going forward. This showed that inflation was revised up this year by 0.1 per cent- further squeezing living standards. The OBR today said there is due to be a slowdown in consumer spending as a result of inflation weighing down on real incomes.
Growth was revised down for 2016, 2018 and every remaining year of this Parliament. The Government’s record on growth is one of failure; sluggish growth and a disappointing recovery.
There was no announcement from the Chancellor to help the North Wales region with an investment programme. Instead more money and power was granted for the South East; yet further centralising power and wealth within London and the surrounding area.
But most concerning for the many hundreds of self-employed people of Flintshire was the announcement that National Insurance Contributions (NICs) would be increased; breaking a manifesto promise to everyone who voted Conservative.
Self-employed workers earn on average half as much as employees and do not have the same level of rights and protections. They pay less National Insurance because they have access to fewer social security entitlements.
Increasing tax on the self-employed is asking the lowest paid, precarious workers to bear the brunt of the Government’s austerity.
In Delyn 7% of the workforce is self-employed. The rise from the current rate of 9% to 10% in April 2018, and 11% in April 2019.
The Chancellor announced £200m over the next four years for the Welsh Assembly Government. That is £200 million out of a budget of £15 billion. That’s around 1.33% increase when inflation is currently running at 1.8%. This is unfair on Wales and does nothing to help the Assembly Government deliver the investment Wales needs.
The Budget is delivering nothing for the people of Delyn. In actual fact it is breaking its promise to all the people who lent them their vote at the last General Election. The Government promised not to increase any National Insurance Contributions. During the Chancellor’s speech he hiked National Insurance tax on self-employed workers for the next two years running. 7% of Delyn is self-employed and this will hit them hard.
We also saw a Budget that centralised power and wealth further still in the South East of England. No investment or regional development scheme was promised for North Wales. In actual fact the whole of Wales combined is getting a less than inflationary increase in its funding. Only 1.33% over the next four years, when inflation is currently running at 1.8%. Once again the Government is leaving us behind.
Labour would have produced a Budget that would have truly worked for the whole country. We wouldn’t have centralised power and wealth further still in London, we wouldn’t have hurt the self-employed, and we wouldn’t have failed to invest in infrastructure. Only through a well-thought-out Labour Budget would we be able to see the inequalities of the past 7 years reversed. The Government benches laughed and joked throughout the whole of the Budget. For them this is just a game. But for the people of Delyn this fudged Budget means more austerity and more hardship to come.
You can read my speech here.