I wonder how many of the Great British public who applauded the bravery and self-sacrifice of our frontline NHS staff throughout this crisis are happy with the paltry pay rise the government awarded, while that same government awards thousands of contracts to private companies at the cost of billions of our pounds without the transparency you would expect?
I wonder how many of the same Great British public are aware that local elections are coming on 6 May, and how at the same time so many local government services are facing massive shortfalls?
I’m certainly happy with none of it.
The government cannot afford to give a real-terms pay rise to nurses. Rishi Sunak, who promised in his Budget speech to parliament: “I have and always will be honest with the country about the challenges we face”, could perhaps explain further why they are so short of the money, including any connection with Brexit (no adverse effects of it mentioned in his speech), or with the tens of billions spent on test and trace.
‘Negligence’ is no accident
I don’t think the Home Office is being negligent at Napier Barracks, as you suggest in your leading article. Negligence suggests a degree of accidental behaviour. In this case it is no accident.
As you reported, the Home Office justifies its use of this site by claiming that housing these individuals in more “generous” accommodation would “undermine public confidence in the asylum system”.
Budget fails social care
Like your columnist, Cathy Newman, I and many people across the UK fully expected to hear a plan on sustainable funding of social care in chancellor Rishi Sunak's Budget this week, but sadly we were disappointed.
In July 2019, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, publicly recognised that the system needs to change and promised to fix the social care crisis. This week, in the Budget, the UK government could have committed to funding and implementing an agenda for change in social care, but did not.
The chancellor has rightly given a lot of attention to securing an economic recovery post-Covid, but the crisis in social care remains, and is getting worse over time. There is a great hole in the heart of the Budget when it comes to delivering the same commitment to securing a social recovery after the pandemic, and one that provides the greatest support to those who have been hardest hit over the last year.
Within the next 20 years, there will be more than 100,000 more people dying each year. How dying people are supported now and in the future must become an urgent priority for this government. Marie Curie wants to see the government go further to deliver sustainable funding solutions to health and social care funding and the hospice sector.
Head of Policy and Public Affairs for Marie Curie in England
Rishi Sunak’s Budget, while below par, could have been worse. Frankly, though, I’d have preferred a much greater emphasis on green issues. Environmental causes are not totally absent, but nor are they at all dominant. Where is the zero carbon ambition? Fuel tax duties being frozen (yet again) weakens the already flimsy approach to climate and the environment. Taxes are going to start rising for millions, and yet the chancellor saw fit to keep petrol and diesel as cheap as possible. The world, owing to climate change, is dying. Did Mr Sunak not get the memo?
The only way is up
There is a great deal of fuss about the new corporation tax rate of 25 per cent. Commentators ignore the fact that the hike is two years away and in the intervening time every other nation will have to find a way to finance their Covid-induced deficits. Our chancellor may have been the first to announce tax increases but he will not be the last.
In two years’ time our rates are likely to still be very competitive.