Today’s columnist, Patrick Meleady: Who benefits from budget?

Budget cut protesters gather outside Sheffield Town Hall
Budget cut protesters gather outside Sheffield Town Hall
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We hear daily from a government that likes to describe itself as a one- nation government,that last week’s budget is only for working people.

What does that say to older people on pensions who have given to this nation for decades but who are no longer in employed work but who continue to contribute to the community good every day?

What does it say to those who have complex health needs or who are struggling to get re-employed after being made redundant and indeed many others to, who cannot for very legitimate reasons work?

The so-called one-nation budget is the follow-through of the election pledge of the Government to “build a Britain that everyone is proud to call home”.

The Prime Minister promised to raise the income tax allowance from £10,500 to £12,500, and increase the threshold at which the 40p tax threshold kicks in from £41,900 to £50.000 – the 10 per cent richest being the most helped of all.

While the Chancellor refuted the reality of child poverty, it is a fact of life in South Yorkshire, and the cuts to in-work benefits and tax credits will lead to more vulnerable children being pushed into poverty and many becoming reliant upon food banks.

In our region, more families are being forced into food poverty every day.

Ex-Treasury official James Meadway, who became a senior economist at the New Economics Foundation, said the budget changes “imply swingeing public sector cuts and mean handing over more cash to the already rich”.

Despite the Chancellor’s and Prime Minister’s insistence that the budget’s actions are aimed at “hard-working” households and would benefit around 30 million people in the UK, expert analysis suggests these tax giveaways in fact help the rich much more than the poor and they also fail to help the ‘squeezed middle’.

There have been dreadful losses in children’s and families services throughout South Yorkshire, on top of financial losses, which has pushed them to live below the breadline.

We see the non-nuclear families being punished, as well as poor students having bursaries removed, threatening to take us back to the days when only the wealthy could go to university.

The mark of any civilised society is how it treats its children and other vulnerable members.

* Patrick Meleady, Pitsmoor Adventure Playground Manager