Sunak pledges a "new economy"
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has delivered his autumn budget pledging a major increase in public spending amid higher than expected economic growth. Total spending will increase by £150bn by 2024-25, which Sunak says is the largest increase this century.
The third sector has responded to a number of areas, specifically changes made to let working claimants keep more of their benefits through a reduced Universal Credit taper as well as a rise in the National Living Wage to soften criticism over the £20 Universal Credit cut.
Sunak also announced a shock cut to air passenger duty on domestic flights, days before COP26 in Glasgow which has outraged environmental groups.
Scottish Government funding is to increase by £4.6bn each year and the first round of bids from the Levelling-Up Fund will be allocated; a total of £1.7bn, including £170m in Scotland.
Here are the responses so far:
Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland director John Dickie
“The long-overdue decision to lower the UC taper rate will help lots of low earners in Scotland and across the UK. But there was nothing for those who cannot work – carers, those with young children and people who are sick or disabled - who face the same cost pressures as other households and will still have a black hole in their finances after the universal credit cut.
“The chancellor acknowledged every child’s right to succeed - but we have record child poverty levels across the UK and this budget left too much still to do. To enable every child to thrive he needs to restore the value of children’s benefits and remove the punitive two-child limit”.
“It is now more important than ever that the Scottish Government puts the national mission to end child poverty front and centre in its forthcoming budget. Any additional resources should be used to contribute to meeting the statutory child poverty targets. An immediate doubling of the Scottish child payment must be the top priority.”
Poverty Alliance director Peter Kelly
"The chancellor said today that there is a ‘moral dimension to the economic challenge we face’. That moral economic challenge ought to be about how we best support those who face hardship and how economic recovery can help everyone.
“The increase in National Living Wage and reduction in Universal Credit taper rate are welcome moves. But welcome though they are, they will do little to help people who are not in employment and who are struggling.
“Significantly, in failing to use his Budget to reinstate the £20 Universal Credit lifeline, Rishi Sunak has failed in his moral duty to protect people from poverty. It is a shameful, unjust decision that makes the chancellor's rhetoric about 'levelling up' seem as empty as the pockets of the hundreds of thousands of people swept into poverty as a result."
Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Derek Mitchell
“Changes to Universal Credit so working people can keep more of what they earn are very welcome, and something Citizens Advice Scotland has been campaigning for.
“However, for many it will not make up for the impact of reducing Universal Credit by £20 per week earlier in the month, particularly as inflation is rising and energy bills have gone up.
“In Scotland, around 4 in 10 people in Universal Credit are in work – so changes to the taper rate don’t help 6 in 10 claimants.
“Analysis by Citizens Advice Scotland revealed that over 1.4million people ran out of money before pay day during the pandemic, people are facing a perfect storm this winter and the CAB network is here to help, nearly 60% of the advice we gave last year was helping people maximise their incomes.”
Charities Aid Foundation chief executive Neil Heslop
“Levelling up is about empowering communities, and no group is more embedded in local communities than the charitable organisations working on the ground. As well as offering employment and growth opportunities for the area, charities act as a precious voice for groups that are too often excluded from existing structures. Giving charities a seat at the table for localised decision making will be crucial if levelling up is to truly ensure that no one is left behind.
“We share the government’s commitment to supporting areas that have not sufficiently benefited from the UK’s prosperity and today’s Budget contains several positive steps. In particular, the commitment to support health research and development is good news, given the immense financial pressures on charities in the sector currently, as well as the announcement of the first projects from the Levelling Up Fund.
“However, levelling up must address more than just economic imbalances, and whilst the focus on local infrastructure is understandable, social infrastructure is important for a successful recovery. We urge the Government to collaborate to give charities a greater voice, which will be key to addressing the health and social inequalities seen across the country.”
“The chancellor’s pledge to return to the 0.7% foreign aid spending commitment by the end of this Parliament will not alleviate the drastic shortfalls facing charities working across the world today and we continue to encourage the government to work with development charities to minimise the effect of the cuts in the interim period.”
WWF executive director of advocacy and campaigns Kate White
“Announcements in today’s Budget – from cutting tax on domestic flights to freezing fuel duty – take us headlong in the wrong direction when it comes to tackling the climate and nature crisis.
“If the chancellor is serious about levelling up and improving life chances for future generations then he must invest now to deliver the net zero transition, creating new green jobs while building resilience to climate change. A Net Zero Test for government spending is critical to success, yet this was still missing from today’s Budget.
“With COP26 just around the corner, every climate promise must be kept. Future generations won’t forgive or forget those who fail to act while there’s still time.”
Pro Bono Economics CEO Matt Whittaker
“The chancellor has given a vital boost to public services and offered a helping hand to workers faced with a cost of living crisis through his pledges on Universal Credit and the National Living Wage.
“But this does little to help the country’s most vulnerable, including the 700,000 long-term unemployed, who have been hardest-hit by the pandemic. Charities are vital to supporting those at the sharp end of society, but the OBR’s forecasts for household spending imply that the sector could be heading into winter with a permanent £6.6 billion gap in public giving as a result of the pandemic.
“All of this makes it even more disappointing to see charities once again conspicuous by their absence in the Treasury’s documents. The sector employs nearly a million people in the UK and has provided a lifeline throughout the pandemic, yet it remains overlooked by too many of the nation’s policymakers.
“There was also very little evidence in the chancellor’s speech of investment in the ‘vibrant communities’ the government has promised to enhance. The government says that improving social infrastructure in the UK’s communities is essential to ‘levelling up’ but has failed to commit to this with funding.”