Give with one hand, take with the other.
That’s the old adage about taxation, and never has it rung more true than when George Osborne lifted that iconic red briefcase aloft again yesterday.
On the one hand, there was a raft of announcements that will benefit people in South Yorkshire.
Chief among these is our front page today: £700,000 for a state-of-the-art MRI machine at the Children’s Hospital, paid for by fines for dodgy bankers.
Think of the lives that could be saved by this new machine – lives of young children in Sheffield.
Then there’s the £75 million being put towards northern transport initiatives including looking at a trans-Pennine tunnel between Sheffield and Manchester, a scheme which would make travel between the two cities much easier.
Another positive is the sugar tax.
Obesity is a massive and growing problem across the country. The new tax equates to about 7p on a can of fizzy drink, or 48p extra on a two-litre bottle from 2018, based on the current sugar amounts in the recipe.
Not only will that price hike help to put off buyers – particularly price and health conscious parents – but money raised will directly fund sport in primary schools.
And the Lifetime ISA, boosting young and low income savers, is a great idea, using the carrot, not stick, to get people to save.
But the grim reality is that these are rare patches of sunlight in an otherwise dark outlook for so many people, especially those in the wilderness of northern England, like us in Sheffield.
The reality is £3.5billion of public sector cuts. Within that, a £50million slash to Sheffield Council’s budget, which means higher Council Tax and decimated frontline services.
Just look at page 12 to see the impact. Sheffield Council is about to end its contract with Age UK to provide day centre places for older people, and the pensioners who rely on it say they will be left with nothing.
And when job cuts are biting so deep – 400 at the council, 250 at the government’s Business, Innovation & Skills centre in Sheffield – how many will be able to afford to save anything at all?
It’s almost as if the government has announced a few, politically savvy headline-grabbing policies in order to divert attention from the scores of cuts that are making day to day life more difficult for the vast majority.
Thanks for the MRI machine, George, but it won’t heal the bloody nose dealt to Sheffield any time soon.