Budget 2015: London’s reaction
This year’s budget included some key announcements relating to London, including plans for the Mayor to be given further powers over planning, underused land being opened up and a £1 million ‘London Land Commission’ to create a database of brownfield and public sector land for residential developments to help ease the housing crisis.
We have asked a handful of Londoners, from local politicians to those living and working in the capital, to share their views about how this budget will affect them and the areas in which they work.
Cllr Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leader, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
“I wonder what world Mr Osborne is living in? Our residents here in Barking and Dagenham are bearing the brunt of some of the hardest cuts they have ever known thanks to the policies of this government.
The budget has nothing for our long suffering residents and it appears once again the Chancellor’s ‘good news’ has passed us by. Our residents are facing the hardest cuts, no investment relevant to them at all. I don’t see how the budget is relevant for our families who depend on food banks, while child poverty is on the rise. I am happy to take the Chancellor on a tour of the borough to hear first-hand the experiences of real people.”
Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader, London Borough of Brent
“With George Osborne you start with far-fetched promises and end with all pain and no gain. Austerity was meant to have ended by this year. Now he claims it will be over by 2019. If he keeps on moving his target the services the people of Brent rely on – their hospitals, schools and children’s centres – will be under serious threat. It is a risk we simply can’t take.
Meanwhile, Brent residents will be worrying what he’s hiding to pay for all his pre-election bribes.
Before the last election it was a VAT hike. Who knows how he plans to claw at family finances this time?”
Cllr Jason Cummings, Shadow Cabinet Member for Treasury and Finance, London Borough of Croydon
“George Osborne’s budget represents a significant step in the financial recovery that is gathering pace in Britain. That we can cut taxes on beer and spirits, cancel Labour’s planned increase on fuel and also increase both the basic rate and higher rate tax allowances above the rate of inflation is a welcome boost and will see wage packets across London going that bit further. The longer term measures to assist first time buyers onto the property ladder are also bound to be positively received in such a buoyant market. Add in that this has been achieved whilst REDUCING the period over which fiscal balance is to be achieved amounts to both a responsible but also aspirational package that should be widely applauded!”
Cllr Kevin Davis, Leader, Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
“Budgets rarely have a transformational effect on local government and this budget is no exception.
The two interlinked issues facing the future of local government in London are austerity and growth. If Boroughs embrace growth they can use it to deliver austerity but to really embed this twin track approach Councils need much more financial independence from government. Whilst the experiments on devolving of business rates to Manchester and Cambridge are interesting I would urge government to go further and faster with this proposal so that Councils can better share in the proceeds of growth.”
Anonymous, Science Teacher, Secondary School in West London
“The biggest area [affecting us] is capital spending. From my own experience, some schools are literally crumbling. We need innovative, custom built learning spaces, to tackle the learning challenges of the 21st century. This is not materializing in many schools.
Continued cuts have a profound impact on the most vulnerable in our schools. The enrichment opportunities and trips that we were able to offer to deprived children has also reduced, as not only can the school not afford them, they cannot afford to pay for the cover that is required. This means that those valuable cultural opportunities that were made available to deprived students under the last government, are again out of their reach.”
David Hutchison, Artistic Director, Sell a Door Theatre Company
“Whilst the initial casualties of the significant cuts to the arts and creative industries may not seem as severe as it has been reported in the arts sector, the stifling of core funding for development and creation of seed projects will have a profound effect on the legacy of British arts, both overseas and at home. Arts centres and creative buildings have had to focus their limited funding on core audiences, and risk-free work – which usually always means relying on a narrow cannon of well-known works, and diverting money away from developing emerging artists and product.
Whilst this model of producing arts may sustain in the short term, audiences will soon desert the arts if they are not being challenged, provoked and intrigued by cutting edge, new artistic output.”
Help to Buy ISAs
The issue of the Help to Buy ISA has been covered extensively in the press. A retired company director with an extensive career working in ISAs in London has the opinion that “the Help to Buy ISA looks to be a good idea, but at present seems to be limited to Cash ISA’s, so it may not appeal to longer-term savers who wish to get a better return by purchasing a Stocks and Shares ISA. However, it does show that the Government is trying to help young people purchase their first home.”