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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Social care overlooked as business welcomes budget

Written by The Press Association

The Chancellor received three cheers from business leaders but was accused of offering "short-term bribes" by critics in wildly-differing reaction to his Budget.

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the EEF manufacturers' organisation, said: "The Chancellor gets three cheers from manufacturers for the measures he's included to boost exporters.

"His decision to bring forward compensation for industries facing vast and uncompetitive energy costs, such as steelmakers, is a huge vote of confidence for them and for manufacturing more widely. In addition, he has committed to a stable and competitive tax regime, which we wholeheartedly support."

GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: "Osborne has claimed more recoveries in the past five years than the RAC. Even a blind person would see the short-term bribes Osborne is offering.

"What he is planning, however, is the most draconian cuts in services that we rely on for a civilised way of life."

Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka described the Budget as "another brutal assault on unemployed, sick and disabled people".

John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "The Chancellor's focus on business growth and prosperity will receive a warm welcome from businesses of all sizes.

"The Chancellor avoided the temptation to use newfound windfalls for gimmicks. His focus on fiscal responsibility will play well with business audiences."

The Institute of Directors said: "This was a solid and responsible budget. Few chancellors would be able to resist the temptation to binge on a £22 billion windfall from the sale of bank shares this close to an election. By using it to pay down our national debt, George Osborne has shown commendable discipline."

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "George Osborne's smugness today is utterly out of place for someone who missed every target he set himself.

"He cannot hide the long-term economic pain he caused to the decent people of this country with his senseless austerity, run away from the living standards that he levelled back to 2007, or hide from the record levels of personal debt swamping the people of this country."

Barnado's chief executive Javed Khan said: "We're disappointed that the Chancellor has chosen to combat in-work poverty with tax changes that benefit higher earners three times more than the poor. Struggling working families will see precious little from the tax change."

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "The Chancellor's Britain, where happy people skip to their secure jobs to celebrate their rising living standards, is not one that many will recognise.

"But it's what he did not say that is most significant. He did not spell out where, if re-elected, he will make the huge spending cuts he plans for the next parliament, nor did he tell Britain's low-paid workers which of their benefits he will cut."

Richard Hawkes, who chairs the Care and Support Alliance, said: "We are disappointed that there is no extra funding for social care in the Budget.

"The care system is on its knees and there is an urgent need to protect both health and social care funding."

Unison leader Dave Prentis said: "For five years of pain, there appears to be very little gain on offer today for ordinary workers.

"With more money than expected at his disposal, the Chancellor could have called time on the Government's damaging austerity policies."

Fiona Weir, chief executive of single parent campaign group Gingerbread, said: "Increasing the personal tax allowance will be of little help to those struggling on the lowest incomes.

"For people already earning too little to pay tax it makes no difference, while those on universal credit will see any increase in take home pay offset through reductions to their benefits - losing 65p for every extra pound they get in take home pay."

Local Government Association chairman David Sparks, said: "This Budget has acknowledged the need for changes to the way public services are funded and delivered and for more of the important decisions to be made closer to the people who use them.

"But it has not protected funding or delivered the bold approach to English devolution which will be essential to the survival of our libraries, children's centres, parks and local buses in the next few years."

Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children's Society said: "However much the Government talks about growth, significant cuts to welfare over the last five years mean that huge numbers of families - both working and non-working - continue to miss out. The Chancellor talks about us all being 'in it together', but the reality is strikingly different for hundreds of thousands of struggling families."

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