Fringe Box



Politicians Say How the Budget Will Affect Guildford

Published on: 7 Mar, 2024
Updated on: 10 Mar, 2024

By Martin Giles

How will yesterday’s budget affect Guildford?

This is the question The Dragon put to the two front-running candidates for the next general election, incumbent MP Angela Richardson, Conservative, and the Lib Dems’ Zoe Franklin. Guildford Labour have yet to select their candidate but they were asked too, as well as an academic view from the University of Surrey.

Angela Richardson

Angela Richardson said: “The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Spring Budget sets out reforms which will support everyone in Guildford with the long-term economic growth and lower taxes that we need.

“Because the government has made important progress in tackling inflation, the Treasury can begin to help families with ground-breaking improvements to public services and permanent cuts in taxation.

“First, I know that Guildford residents will be pleased to learn that the Chancellor is supporting the NHS with a landmark £3.4 billion Productivity Plan, which the Treasury is funding in full.

“This will help increase the use of AI to support faster cancer diagnosis, reduce admin, and transform access and services for patients. These reforms were announced alongside a plan to support public sector productivity, which will deliver up to £1.8 billion worth of benefits by saving police time and reducing fraud and justice system admin.

“Second, as well as reforming child benefits which will help families across Guildford save an average of almost £1,300 per household, the Chancellor announced a variety of tax cuts and reforms which will make work pay. This includes another cut to employee National Insurance which adds an extra £900 to the average employee’s pay packets, when combined with last year’s cuts.

“Third, I was delighted to listen to the chancellor announce support for Guildford’s creative industries. The Government will be supporting film, theatres, orchestras, and galleries with over £1 billion in additional tax relief over the next five years, which will increase local inward investment and attract production companies worldwide.

“People in Guildford use their cars and support their local pubs so the freeze on fuel duty and alcohol duty is very welcome.

“These are just some of the landmark reforms announced during the Spring Budget which will give much-needed help to households and businesses across Guildford and pave the way for a higher-wage and higher-skilled economy.”

Zoe Franklin

Zöe Franklin said: “The Conservatives will take us into the next General Election with taxes at their highest level since 1948, while the NHS, public services, our standard of living and wellbeing have been decimated.

“The cut in National Insurance contributions disproportionately benefits higher earners, while freezing the earnings thresholds National Insurance kicks in at will draw more people into paying it.

“The continued freeze on personal income tax thresholds will also see more people dragged into paying the basic rate, and others brought into the higher rate bands.

“Make no mistake, the Conservatives are taking far more than they’re giving. This deception is an insult to all of us.

“Whenever this unelected Prime Minister calls a General Election, our decision on how to vote boils down to some very simple questions:

  • After 14 years of the Conservatives running down our country, our local services and the NHS, do you feel better off?
  • Are you thriving, or surviving?
  • Can the younger generation look forward to having better opportunities than their parents enjoyed?
  • When you or your family need a GP or NHS dentist appointment, never mind any hospital treatment, will you get the care you need when you need it?
  • Do the Police have the resources to make you feel safe?

“We all know the answers.

“The disastrous ‘mini-budget’ of Liz Truss is still seeing mortgage payments soaring, while we’re all hit with our fuel bills and weekly shop costing more than ever.

“The legacy of this failing Conservative government is shameful.

“Our country cannot carry on like this.

“Guildford deserves a strong and committed local champion, and I stand ready.

A General Election cannot come soon enough.”

A spokesperson from Guildford Labour said: “This budget is a perfect example of why we need to change this ineffective government, which spends so much time attacking the opposition who have not been in power for 14 years, rather than actually looking at the needs of the country. 

“The budget does nothing to support local councils, which means services will continue to be slashed to the very people who need their support.

“As the shadow chancellor put it very succinctly, ‘taxes are still rising, prices are still going up in the shops and mortgages are higher. Nothing Jeremy Hunt has said changes that. It’s time for a change. We should also add that the investment he talks about does nothing to help public services such as Education, the NHS and transport.’

“What is the most frustrating is while criticising Labour’s polices which would actively make a difference to working families, the Chancellor is more than happy to steal those policies when it suits him, even though he has condemned them many times.

“The frustration felt by many people in Guildford, and I’m sure around the rest of the country, is that the Tories are not listening. They come up with schemes which may happen years in the future rather than dealing with the here and now and then quietly do not act on them thinking the public does not notice. We do!

“The British public is crying out for change – please just go and let the Labour Party sort out the mess you have left behind.”

Dr Luciano Rispoli , Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Surrey, said: “The chancellor unveiled multiple plans to support a long-term growth plan for the UK economy. It is undoubtedly true that some of these measures will work to sustain economic growth – ie incentivising investments in key areas such as AI and creative industries as well as in UK stocks.

“But it is the 2p decrease in NI contributions that, in my opinion, will make the biggest difference to earners. This should stimulate employment but more importantly increase disposable income.

“In fact, even a tiny increase in disposable income will make a big difference to millions of financially squeezed households who have been struggling due to higher mortgage rates and cost of living. These are also the consumers with the highest propensity to consume, meaning that the UK economy will likely experience a significant economic boost as a result of these NI contribution cuts.”

And regarding impact on Guildford?

“In my view, the best news for Guildford and for Surrey in general is the new deal made in collaboration with the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

“This deal will create more jobs, upskill the Surrey area workforce but more importantly will delegate some important decisions to local councils which are in the best position to allocate spending and fund activities that work for the county of Surrey.”

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Responses to Politicians Say How the Budget Will Affect Guildford

  1. Lottie Harding Reply

    March 7, 2024 at 10:43 pm

    The best (funniest) part of the budget report in my view is section 3.2 which says this when talking about productivity plans for public services:

    “Piloting the use of AI solutions to support planning authorities to streamline their local plan development processes, producing plans in 30 months rather than the current average of seven years. This builds on work to date which has already reduced planning officer processing times by up to 30% per application.”

    So going forward, the Government thinks it is a good idea for Local Plans and planning decisions to be determined by a computer programme.

    • Jules Cranwell Reply

      March 9, 2024 at 6:17 am

      A computer programme could not possibly do worse than the Tories did with their disastrous Local Plan. For example a programme would of necessity factor in constraints, as required by the NPPF, which the Tories completely failed to do.

  2. Brian Creese Reply

    March 8, 2024 at 12:56 pm

    I think this is probably the most cynical budget I have seen in my lifetime.

    Jeremy Hunt has delivered a budget which does absolutely nothing for the country but is designed simply to help the electoral prospects of the Conservative party. He trumpets a tax cut for this electoral year, neglecting to note he has already built in record tax rises and public spending cuts for the post-election period.

    He has squeezed local authority spending so every council will be adding 5 per cent to their council tax this year – wiping out much of the “tax cut” and he has stolen money Labour had allocated to the NHS for no reason other than to make it harder for Labour to balance the books.

    The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said they would describe the government spending plans as fiction – except fiction is written down, and they have seen nothing of the government’s spending plans except a final figure with no justifications or break downs.

    For the first time in modern history everyone is poorer now than they were at the last election, tax take is higher than any time since 1948 and everyone knows the infrastructure is crumbling around us. Put simply, it is time this discredited government left the stage and allows Labour to start the long process of recovery.

    Brian Creese is a Guildford Labour activist

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