This budget was bad for the environment with no new support for renewable energy until 2025 but with continuing tax write-offs for oil and gas drilling firms. Could it be a coincidence that the Conservative Party has been getting hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations from people high up in the oil industry?

The National Health Service said it needed £4 billion but the budget has only allowed £1.6 billion. The public sector pay cap has not really been lifted nor has the freezing of below pension age benefits. The winter fuel allowance which Labour introduced in 1997 at £250 and the Coalition government reduced to £200 in 2011 remains the same despite energy prices going up and the winter mortality rate still at levels way above those of other northern European countries with harsher winters.

Tax dodging has not been dealt with in any meaningful way. Ninety-eight of the FTSE top 100 companies have over 8,000 subsidiaries in overseas tax havens. Hammond could have done something about this but he chose not to. In 1979 when Thatcher became prime minister Britain was the most equal society in western Europe. Successive Tory, New Labour and Coalition governments have allowed inequality to steadily increase until today we are now the least equal society in Europe. The wealth of the richest 1,000 increased by 14% last year according to the Sunday Times Rich List. Conservative chancellors do not see this as something to be ashamed of.

In today's Britain there are more people than I remember without homes or hope; many children go to school hungry; our benefit system fails to meet needs; our NHS is deliberately fragmented; our public services and local governments are starved of the cash they need to fulfil their legal obligations let alone do what they might want.

This has been a 'steady as she sinks' budget favouring tax dodging millionaires, mean employers, lousy landlords and oil magnates and doing nothing much for the rest of us.

 

Gerrard Sables

North Devon branch secretary

Communist Party