This was a string vest budget, more notable for what it didn’t contain than what it did. And it is Brexit that has stolen all the clothes. So distracted are government departments with the process of leaving the EU that they are putting all their energies into trying to sort out the government’s Brexit shambles. This means major crises such as climate change and air pollution fail even to get a mention, let alone any sort of plan.
The Chancellor has utterly failed to get a grip on the air pollution emergency in Britain, and this budget simply won’t go anywhere near far enough in cleaning up the filthy air which leads to 40,000 early deaths per year. With the cost of motoring dropping in recent years – and public transport costs skyrocketing – we should have seen the fuel duty escalator unfrozen and the money ploughed into public transport. Instead we’ve seen further handouts to the motor lobby and persistent neglect for cleaner, healthier forms of transport.
This budget is another climate failure – with the Chancellor failing to mention climate change even once in his speech. Rather than reversing the solar tax hike or ploughing money into renewables the Chancellor seems hell bent on drilling for more gas and oil in the North Sea, and handing further cash to the motor lobby with the fuel duty freeze. Britain should be leading the world in climate change technology and green jobs but instead we’re lagging behind and laying the foundations for another dash for gas.
A failure by the chancellor to even mention these environmental crises does not bode well for a future outside the EU. But more subsidies for fossil fuels and tax cuts for corporations did feature. The direction of travel post Brexit is clear: shred EU regulations which have protected the environment and safeguarded our health; and keep your fossil and corporate friends happy through tax breaks and tax cuts.
Green Party Stroud District Councillor Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe.