Budget 2013: Reactions

Our pick of the reactions to George Osborne's 2013 Budget statement.
Our pick of the reactions to George Osborne's 2013 Budget statement.

We've been deluged by the usual flood of responses to the Budget. Here's our pick of the reactions to George Osborne's 2013 Budget.

Political

Ed Miliband gave a delightfully childish response to the Budget in the Commons (you can read it in full here), but other parties wanted their say as well.

Danny Alexander MP, Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury


"Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life. That's why we are cutting taxes for working people.

"When times are as tough as they are now, our focus must be on helping those on low and middle incomes. The right to earn £10,000 income tax free has gone from the front page of our manifesto to the pockets of 27m hardworking people. By keeping this promise we are giving practical help to millions of families.

"It's also why we have scrapped another of Labour's fuel duty rises, so filling up your car will be £7 cheaper than under Labour plans. And why we are cracking down on tax dodgers so that everyone is paying their fair share."

Jonathan Edwards MP, Treasury spokesman for Plaid Cymru

"It is disappointing that the chancellor failed to adopt a range of progressive policies

advocated by Plaid Cymru such as reversing the tax cut for those earning over £3,000 a week due to be implemented in April and scrapping the Trident renewal that is set to cost £100bn over the lifetime of a new system.

"He also failed to make progress on introducing a Financial Transaction (Robin Hood) Tax that would raise £20bn a year and help curb the speculative behaviour in the financial sector which caused the crash in the first place. The decision to scrap the stamp duty on shares trading is a regressive move as it's the only thing in the UK currently resembling this tax.

"There are, however, some measures which Plaid Cymru welcomes. The announcement on childcare support is a positive move but we are concerned that it does not help those on tax credits or universal credit - in other words those on the lowest incomes who face the greatest barriers to meaningful work."

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU)

"We agree with the chancellor that education is vital to the long-term prospects of the country. However, warm words are simply not enough when universities and colleges are victims of his cuts.

"Public servants across the board are being asked to do more for less. While millionaires look forward to a tax break, families across the country will see yet another erosion in their standards of living. Instead of spending money to try and stimulate some growth in our struggling economy, they will be worrying about how to meet their ever-increasing bills."

Growth

During his Budget statement, Osborne admitted the recovery had not been as robust or as quick as the government – and the British public – were hoping for. His plans to rectify this, however, were met with strong criticism.

Frances O'Grady, general secretary of TUC

"This budget is the wrong answer to the wrong question. We face a jobs, growth and living standards crisis, yet today's proposals are small beer that do little more than tinker at the edges.

"The only long-term way to mend the public finances is to get a healthy growing economy where businesses and workers earn enough to spend confidently, and those who can afford it pay proper rates of tax.

"No politician likes to be accused of a u-turn, but when your policies are making the problem worse then it is time to find reverse gear."

Employment

Despite news of a rise in unemployment, the chancellor attempted to show solidarity with those who "wanna work hard and get on" by telling people "we are on your side". Some were not convinced the Budget adequately demonstrated such a commitment.

Jim Hillage, director of research at the Institute for Employment Studies

"Unless specific measures are taken, youth unemployment will not start to fall significantly until growth returns to the economy. A fiscally neutral budget is unlikely to alter the overall economic outlook. In these circumstances, the chancellor may have missed a trick by not targeting the new Employment Allowance at the under 25s."

Education

The coalition is notoriously unpopular with teachers, so it comes as little surprise to see statements from the UK's biggest teaching unions condemning the Budget and the government's record on education. They all expressed deep concern for further proposed cuts to education.

Chris Keates, general secretary of NASUWT

"The chancellor's statement that substantial savings will be made from limiting pay progress of public sector workers confirms that the School Teachers' Review Body has been duped by Michael Gove. The changes made to the teachers' pay structure were nothing to do with rewarding 'good teachers' as the secretary of state claimed but in fact were, as the NASUWT predicted, a precursor to extending further pay depression to teachers and now to all other public service workers.

"This budget will inflict even more misery on already hard pressed ordinary families."

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT)

"The government's war on public sector workers is causing serious economic problems.  Attacks on public sector pay levels and pay progression drain demand from the economy, forcing living standards down even further as the economy stagnates.  As we have said consistently, investing in the public sector including education is key to economic growth and prosperity."

"Education is high on the government's hit list. Schools and colleges have not been 'protected' as the government claims, but have suffered significant real terms funding cuts.  Tuition fees have been trebled, the Education Maintenance Allowance has been cut, sixth form colleges' funding is being cut by almost a fifth and the limited programme to rebuild schools in great disrepair has ground to a halt.  Youth unemployment is rising again."

Tax avoiders and tax evaders

As politics.co.uk reported earlier today, Osborne's proposed general anti-abuse rule has been attacked for not only being ineffective in combating the issue of tax avoiding, but for potentially making the problem worse. Following the Budget statement, this did not change.

Murray Worthy, campaigner for anti-poverty charity War on Want

"Osborne's announcement of a new 'anti-abuse rule' at the heart of his supposed tax avoidance clampdown is nothing more than a hollow PR stunt. An administrative exercise for HMRC, tinkering around the edges of what is legal, is being dressed up as an assault on tax dodgers. Not only will these plans have no impact on giant corporate tax dodgers, they actually stand to make things worse.

"Osborne's decision to let big companies shirk their responsibilities to society, while forcing through more spending cuts, is morally indefensible."

Tax Cuts

It was not all doom and gloom for Osborne's Budget. His proposals to cut fuel and beer duties were welcomed warmly in the Commons and by outside groups.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance

"George Osborne has announced welcome relief for people struggling with the high cost of living. The cut in beer tax, the freeze in fuel duty and the higher personal allowance will all ease the pressure on family budgets. Lower employers' National Insurance and corporation tax will also be passed on to workers in higher wages.

"Unfortunately, the great limitation of this budget was that it relied far too much on complicated targeted reliefs instead of tax cuts across the board. Simpler, strategic tax reforms that reduce the overall burden would be fairer and do more to produce the stronger economy Britain needs."

David Skelton, deputy director of Policy Exchange

"The 'Boddingtons Budget' will go down well with hard working people up and down the country. A further fuel duty freeze and cut in the price of a pint are popular announcements but below the headlines there are some other interesting measures. Reforming public sector pay so that increases are not just based on how long you've been in the job will go a long way to increasing productivity.  Likewise a cut to national insurance contributions for small businesses should help small and growing firms.

"The growth and debt figures were disappointing . We need to get the banks lending to business to create more jobs in the private sector so it isn’t particularly helpful to offset the cut in corporation tax with an additional bank levy."

Chris Sanger, global head of tax policy for Ernst & Young

"By confirming that the UK corporate tax rate will drop to 20%, the chancellor has delivered the ambition he set out in the last Budget. The UK's tax regime is already attracting more jobs and investment to our shores, and this latest step reinforces the message that Britain is open for business.

"Combined with confirmation of the GAAR, and the UK's commitment to participating in the OECD’s project on international taxation, the chancellor is making it clear that the UK is a competitive place to do business but that he expects all parties pay their fair share."

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS)

"The Budget does not include any radical changes that will transform confidence amongst everyday entrepreneurs, like local shop owners, but action on national insurance, card payments and beer duty are positive steps that will make a difference."

Housing

There was more positive feedback on the matter of housing, as groups commended the chancellor for his moves to improve conditions for homeowners.

Paul Smee, director general of the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML)

"The announcement of Help to Buy which will help mitigate the risk of those lending low deposit mortgages shows a positive re-focus on promoting home ownership. The benefits will not be immediate, and we need to look at the detail of implementation, but this could have a significant impact in the medium term."

John Cridland, director general of the CBI

"We're particularly pleased our call for a focus on the short-term boost of housing has been heeded, alongside an increase in longer-term big ticket infrastructure spending.

"This was recognition it was a mistake to cut capital spending so sharply and that other growth-boosting measures were taking too long. But by shifting £6bn to housing and infrastructure, the government has sowed the seeds for growth and jobs."

International Aid

Possibly the most positive reaction to the Budget was in reaction to the commitment to helping poor people all over the world.

Dominic Haslam, director of policy at Sightsavers

"Today's Budget is a landmark achievement for UK aid. A level of stable, predictable aid financing is an essential part of the mix of resourcing needed for development. By reaching the globally-agreed 0.7 per cent target, the UK is contributing its fair share. Discussions must now start to focus on the more important questions of how and where UK aid can be most effectively spent – such as to support the billion people who live with disabilities worldwide.

"The chancellor made it crystal clear today that despite tough economic times here at home, Britain will not turn its back on the millions of vulnerable people who live in devastating poverty around the world."

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