The OBR forecast of higher inflation and more borrowing is another sign of how the Tory pursuit of a Hard Brexit is weakening our economy. The government is expected to borrow £100 billion more over the next 5 years than was forecast before the EU referendum – meaning higher debt payments for today’s young people for decades to come.
In the face of this, we do welcome the Government’s commitment to increase spending on social care by £2 billion – a key Liberal Democrat demand for the Budget. However, £2 billion is not nearly enough to cover a chronically underfunded social care budget, and we call on the government to pledge a significantly higher increase. The Liberal Democrats have also called for an additional £500 million for mental health. We urgently need to increase funding for mental health care, addressing the scandalous waiting lists and lack of training among health professionals.
There was not much else to like in this Brexit Budget. While we support attempts to simplify our complex tax system, punishing self-employed workers with a National Insurance hike will weaken Britain’s economy at a time when Tory attempts to pull us out of the Single Market have already led to higher prices.
The rise in national insurance for self-employed workers contradicts the Tory 2015 Manifesto pledge not to raise direct taxes. With small businesses up and down the country already being hammered by steep increases in business rates, the Tory claim to be the party of aspiration is looking more and more empty by the day. Britain needs to encourage young entrepreneurs with lower taxes and a liberal immigration system, not a withdrawal from the Single Market that will make it harder to do business across Europe.
A hard Brexit is a threat to our jobs, our economy and our social services. Philip Hammond is pursuing an agenda that will further damage the opportunities of young people in Britain – the majority of whom did not back Brexit. Whilst young people suffer the consequences of a Hard Brexit, the Chancellor has protected the universal benefits of wealthy pensioners, refusing to ask them to pay a penny more. Meanwhile, the generational divide worsens as young people struggle to get onto the housing ladder or secure a stable job.
The Tories defend a tax system where income is redistributed from young to elderly, not from rich to poor. They defend a housing policy where green belt restrictions and tight planning laws push down the supply of housing, leading to higher rents for young people and preventing them from owning their own home.
This refusal to tackle the generational divide shows where the Conservative priorities really lie. This was a Budget for Theresa May’s Brexit hardliners, not for the young people and families already struggling to get by