Local politicians respond to the Chancellor’s ‘Budget for working people’

The Chancellor’s ‘Budget for working people’ has met with mixed reaction in North Devon.

George Osborne has delivered a national ‘living wage’ of £7.20 for those over 25, plus increased the personal tax allowance and the inheritance tax threshold.

Welfare changes included restricting tax credit payments to a maximum of two children for those born to families after April 2017.

North Devon’s Conservative MP Peter Heaton-Jones hailed it as ‘eye-catching, optimistic and fair’.

He said of the living wage: “This will give two-and-a-half million people a direct pay rise. It means a full time worker in North Devon currently receiving the minimum wage will get a pay rise of more than £5,000.”

In response to changes to welfare, Mr Heaton-Jones said he believed these were fair and allowed the government to spend more on public services while protecting the elderly, vulnerable and disabled.

The A361 North Devon Link Road was mentioned in Budget papers, with £1.5m to go towards creating a business case for its improvement.

Fuel duty was frozen, while alcohol and tobacco duties were not mentioned.

Councillor Brian Greenslade, Liberal Democrat shadow leader of North Devon Council, said: “In my view it’s a budget for those who have and not good news for a low wage area like North Devon.

“It is especially bad news for local young people and their housing needs.”

Ricky Knight of North Devon Green Party said the Budget was ‘divisive, cruel and counterproductive’: “It’s the archetypal ‘smoke and mirrors / divide and rule / give with one hand, take away with the other’; yet so subtly presented as to ensure some will feel the great British economy has turned the corner and happy days are here again,” he said.

Gerard Sables of the North Devon branch of the Communist Party said it was a ‘Budget for rich people’: “The decision to deny housing benefits to those under 25 or to grant the full minimum wage to them will cause severe hardship,” he said.