Friday, 02 December 2016 14:55

Don't Be Fooled By The Chancellor's Generosity

It seems that it’s not just us who find the £500 a year rise to the National Living Wage announced in the Autumn Statement 2016 pure hypocrisy from the new Chancellor, Philip Hammond. Where to begin, there are so many failings to reel through?

On the surface of it, the rise is lower than some had been expecting and leaves it well below the independently-calculated Living Wage of £8.45 across the UK and £9.75 in London. But, scratch beneath and you’ll find a staggering gulf between and ever-growing divide of the riches in our country.

Let’s look at the figures as the rest of the austerity-hit UK continues to endure flat wages.

During his speech Mr Hammond said that the Conservative Government had given the 4 per cent pay rise to over a million workers. We doubt that will offer much comfort to the millions who are tiresome of paltry talk from the silver-spooned political elite about wanting to help struggling families. A bitter pill to swallow when compared to the 10 per cent rise in MPs salaries in 2015 to a staggering £74,962, with expenses on top!!

“We shouldn’t be getting a rise that is bigger than anyone else’s. This will go down very badly with the general public” according to John Mann Labour MP. You think!?

At the same time, dozens of MPs pledged to give away the £10,000 rise to good causes, but just 4 per cent, or should we say a measly 25 out of the 650 MPs who are meant to work on behalf of the hardworking people who pay their wages, actually did!

Worst yet, whilst still in an age of austerity and paying down the deficit, more greed just nine months later when MPs added a further £1,000 to their salary – double the rise being afforded to the National Living Wage and a rise more than a third higher than the average annual wage increase for all UK workers.

Flying in the face of Prime Minister Theresa May’s vow to “make society fairer for families”, further injustice in the fact that more than half of MPs said this year they wanted looser rules on the use of their taxpayer-funded credit cards, demanding the right to use them to pay for food and drinks. MPs can currently spend a maximum of £1,000 on a single transaction and a total of £4,000 each month on their card. If only we all had the same luxuries – a recipe for inequality indeed!

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey got it spot on in his response to the Autumn Statement; "What is clear is that the Conservative party owes the UK people a huge apology. With debt set to soar, yet more promised targets missed and living standards still dropping, the truth is that Tory policies were a massive fraud."

Maybe Mr McCluskey would be as scathing in his views on the vast amounts of money MPs earn on top of their already eye-watering salary. And here we find ourselves and our ‘old friend’ again, ex-Chancellor George Osborne. Not content with the blatant disregard for equality, George banked a whopping £320,000 last month in outside earnings as he cashed in charging more than £75,000 a pop to give just five after dinner speeches in America and freebie flights to New York, putting him on course to earn more than £2 million in a year. Not bad for someone who dismally failed at their job!

Take a reality check and don’t be fooled by Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement, or indeed anything the Conservative Government says – it’s the rich who benefit yet again and does nothing for hard-up families. Not only is a £500 increase their rouse to hoodwink us all, the cut in Universal Credit top-ups for low income earners adds insult to injury for millions of people and “just about managing” families. 

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