Free from the restraining influence of Liberal Democrats in government, the Conservatives have reverted to type and unleashed a Budget that attacks the young, the sick and public sector workers according to Cheltenham's former MP Martin Horwood.
'The Chancellor has abandoned the moderation of the coalition and delivered tax breaks for the wealthiest estates in the country while hitting young people, the sick and public sector employees' said Martin.
'George Osborne can apparently afford to give away millions to the richest 6% of estates in the country through his inheritance tax break' said Martin , 'but he can't afford to give more than a 1% pay rise to public sector workers for the next four years.'
'Cheltenham people working in GCHQ, Cheltenham General, the police, the university and schools and colleges will be horrified that they are expected to get just 1% pay rises for four more years even though the economy is expected to grow at 2.4% this year. In the election, Liberal Democrats committed to real terms increases in public sector pay. But without Liberal Democrats in government, public sector workers are facing years more austerity from the Tories.
'Young people are also being hit with a triple whammy' said Martin. 'Housing benefit has been taken away, the Chancellor’s new national minimum wage doesn’t apply, and student grants have been axed. This Tory budget hits young people hard.
'Under the Chancellor's so-called Living Wage proposal, someone under 25 working a 30 hour week will earn £780 a year less than someone doing the same job who is over 25. In a festival town where many people do seasonal work in the hospitality industry this really does matter.'
Martin added: 'And George Osborne is really trying to con people by using the phrase 'Living Wage' for his new national minimum wage rate. Any increase in the national minimum wage is to be welcomed but he has only increased it from £6.50 to £7.20 while the Living Wage Foundation calculate the real living wage at £7.85 an hour.
'The Budget also includes the cutting of Employment Support Allowance which is paid to people with disabilities, sickness or mental health problems who are looking for work. Around two million people in the UK, probably at least three thousand people in Cheltenham, receive the Employment and Support Allowance in some form.'
The Living Wage Foundation's calculation of the living wage can be found at http://www.livingwage.org.uk/what-living-wage