George Osborne’s Autumn Statement today delivered a number of measures - including a headline grabbing cut for Stamp Duty, extra cash for the NHS and a freeze on fuel duty...but will these measures make life better in Boston?
We asked representatives of the Conservatives, Labour and UKIP for their take on the Chancellor’s economic judgement.
Boston and Skegness Conservative candidate Matt Warman says the Stamp Duty announcement will definitely benefit voters. He told The Standard: “When I was campaigning up in Skegness last month, one of the first thing voters asked for was a cut in Stamp Duty; when I was in Boston on Saturday, a senior accountant told me he thought Stamp Duty distorted the market.
“Reforming it means 99.8% of people across the East Midlands will pay the same or – more likely – considerably less. It will boost our local housing market and save hardworking people money on buying a home. And cutting income tax will lift many low-paid workers out of income tax altogether.”
He said the fuel duty freeze will make a difference to us, being a rural area that is heavily reliant on transport for personal and business.
Mr Warman also said the extra cash unveiled for the NHS will help safeguard services at local hospitals. A spokesman for United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust had told The Standard they are yet to hear how much extra will be spent in Lincolnshire, where the NHS as a whole is facing up to a £365 deficit.
Mr Warman added: “This is excellent news for hardworking families in Boston and Skegness. The fundamental reform of stamp duty will cut taxes for the overwhelming majority of people trying to buy a house here – and the personal allowance rise and change to the ISA rules back people who want to work hard and save.
“This Autumn Statement confirms the Government’s long-term economic plan is working. This matters to families here in Boston and Skegness because it’s only with a strong and healthy economy that families here can have economic security for the future.
“We must carry on working through our plan and stay on course to prosperity.”
Leader of the Labour group on Boston Borough Council Paul Gleeson accused the Government of running out of ideas, and said none of the measures outlined will help working people in Boston.
He said: “There’s nothing that will actually help the average person in Boston have a few quid left in their pocket at the end of the week.
“This is a Government at the end of it’s life - it has got no real ideas any more, it’s a fag end Government.”
He said the cash offered to the NHS is not new funding – and contrasted it to the £3 billion he said was ‘wasted’ on re-organising the NHS under the coalition government.
He said he failed to understand the need to cut Stamp Duty when the economy was still not strong, adding: “If we weren’t try to pay off billions of pounds of debt caused by the banking crisis it would be a nice thing to do but I would have thought, a bit like giving tax reductions to millionaires, what should be a priority at this stage of the economic cycle is the fact that most people are struggling to make ends meet.”
He added: “It’s easy to blame the last Labour Government but actually the 2008-10 Labour Government coped much better with the impact of the banking crisis than this Government has done. They have borrowed more money in the last five years than Labour borrowed in the whole 13 years of Government.”
UKIP election candidate Robin Hunter-Clarke said he echoed the party’s economic spokesman Patrick O’Flynn’s comment that Mr Osborne had resorted to ‘smoke and mirrors politics’ by ‘pretending’ the deficit is under control.
Mr Hunter-Clarke told The Standard: “Our economic spokesman has hit the nail on the head. There is a lot of tinkering around the edges in this year’s budget but the fact is the Conservative led government has failed to do what it said it would do.
“Osborne has not halved the deficit at all - this is all based on an optimistic forecast for next year.
“All they continue to do is blame Labour, which is no longer a valid excuse. It is time to let UKIP be heard on this issue - we are going to have a fully costed plan of action to sort this country out which will be released in the upcoming manifesto next year.”
The statement, some key points:
*Stamp duty - No tax on the first £125,000, 2% up to £250,000, 5% up to £925,000, 10% up to £1.5m and 12% above that.
*Economy predicted to grow 3% in 2014, higher than the 2.7% budget forecast
*Bank fines to be spent on GPs, emergency services, Gurkhas, veterans with hearing problems, new helicopters and VAT refunds for search and rescue
*Air passenger duty for children under 12 to be abolished from May 1 and for under 16s the year after
*Fuel duty frozen
*£10,000 student loans for postgraduate students doing masters courses
*A ‘Google Tax’ levy of 25% on profits moved abroad by multi-nationals.
*Limit on the profits banks can offset as losses
What do you think? Will George Osborne’s statement be good or bad for you? Post your comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org