UK reverses welfare, police budget cut plans

26th Nov 2015
UK reverses welfare, police budget cut plans

LONDON (AA) – Cuts to Britain’s welfare and police budgets will not go ahead following widespread criticism of the U.K. government’s plans.

Chancellor George Osborne had pledged to reduce police funding and tighten tax credits offered to the country’s lowest paid workers to reach his ambition of an overall budget surplus by 2020.

However, opposition parties said the plans would further impoverish the poorest people in Britain and reduce security at a time of heightened alert.

“I’ve been asked to help in the transition as Britain moves to the higher wage, lower welfare, lower tax society the country wants to see,” Osborne told the House of Commons on Wednesday.

“I’ve had representations that these changes to tax credits should be phased in. I’ve listened to the concerns. I hear and understand them.

“And because I’ve been able to announce today an improvement in the public finances, the simplest thing to do is not to phase these changes in but to avoid them altogether.”

He added that funding for the U.K.’s police forces would remain unchanged. “I am today announcing there will be no cuts in the police budget at all,” Osborne said. “There will be real terms protection for police funding. The police protect us, and we’re going to protect the police.”

Osborne used the speech to say Britain’s growth forecast for 2015 was maintained at 2.4 percent and raised slightly to 2.4 percent in 2016 and 2.5 percent in 2017.

He said: “Since 2010, no economy in the G7 has grown faster than Britain. We are growing three times faster than Japan, twice as fast as France, faster than Germany and the same as the United States.”

But the opposition Labour Party slammed Osborne for “betraying” the voters after promising to eliminate Britain’s budget deficit by 2015.

The party’s finance spokesman John McDonnell told parliament: “Can I say today the chancellor has got some front to come to this house and talk to us about the deficit and to lecture us about deficit reduction – today is the day the chancellor was supposed to announce austerity was over.

“From what we have heard today, I think they will feel absolutely betrayed.”

The Scottish National Party, the third largest parliamentary group, said Osborne had performed a “complete and humiliating U-turn on tax credits”.

Author: Michael Sercan Daventry
[Photo: UK Chancellor George Osborne. Creative Commons]

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