Council leaders criticise the chancellor for bribing and deceiving Sheffield folk
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt yesterday (November 22) introduced a package with 110 measures aimed at boosting the economy.
One of the highlights is that Mr Hunt announced a bigger than expected cut in national insurance – and also increased the legal minimum wage – while claiming he and the government had put the economy “back on track”.
However, town hall’s top councillors criticised the measures and accused Mr Hunt of bribing and deceiving the people of Sheffield.
Cllr Tom Hunt, the leader of Sheffield Council, said the people of Sheffield “deserve better”.
The Labour councillor told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We were told this was going to be an autumn statement for growth. But all the chancellor has done is lift the lid on the full scale of the damage the Conservatives have done to our economy and household finances over the last 13 years.
“Since 2010 Sheffield City Council has been hammered, first by the Tory/Lib Dem coalition and now by the Tories…
“We have been forced to deliver over £475m of savings to offset funding cuts by central government and increased pressures. In real terms, the funding that the Council has to deliver services has reduced by 29 per cent or £856 per resident, compared to the national average of 20 per cent and £581 per resident.
“Yesterday’s autumn statement does little to change that. The party that crashed the economy has let us down yet again.
“The people of Sheffield deserve better”
Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed (Ecclesall, Liberal Democrats, leader of the Liberal Democrats Group) said that the autumn statement was a “deception” from Jeremy Hunt after years of “cruel tax hikes on hard-working Sheffield families from this government”.
Cllr Mohammed added: “Next year, even after changes to National Insurance, a Sheffield resident on a typical salary will pay an extra £400 in tax. A middle-income earner will pay a whopping £1,200 more in tax.
“Changes to National Insurance will give the average earner just £40 a month. Meanwhile, the typical mortgage will go up by £220 a month.
“You can’t fix the economy without fixing the NHS – we need the millions on NHS waiting lists treated and back to work – but we heard nothing on the NHS. OBR growth forecasts have been halved because people are waiting for NHS treatment.”
Cllr Douglas Johnson (City, Green Party, leader of the Green Group) added the chancellor “did nothing to support vital local services in his autumn statement”.
Cllr Johnson said: “Local people in Sheffield know that the services they rely on are underfunded and overstretched. They see the strain that the NHS and public services provided by the Council are under.
“The Government has effectively ignored that by prioritising tax cuts over health, social care, fuel poverty, growing homelessness and public transport.
“They have sought to bribe the electorate with tax cuts rather than by being a responsible and effective government.
“The politics of austerity have not gone away: the Office for Budget Responsibility tells us that real living standards next year will see the biggest drop since the 1950s and will be 3.5% lower than in 2019.
“I am sure people in Sheffield won’t be fooled.”
The criticism was echoed by the vice president of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Alexis Krachai who, when reacting to the autumn statement, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service earlier that the government was handing out “Christmas presents” to drive popularity.
Mr Krachai urged the chancellor and the government to introduce a long-term plan to drive growth and investment across the economy.