So the main rate of VAT is set to rise from 17.5% to 20% in January next year. But we are told that the price of alcohol and cigarettes will apparently not rise. Will someone please tell the Honourable Gideon that booze and fags are going to go up in price anyway because of the rise in VAT? Nice bit of trickery there. If you wanted to obliterate the agony of of the cuts from your mind by drinking more than your body weight in booze – forget it. From now on, only the rich will be able to afford cans of Tennants Super.
Meanwhile for those of you unfortunate enough to have lost your job or to be long term sick or disabled, you’re going to have your benefits cut. Those of you unfortunate enough to rent accommodation in the private sector will have your housing benefit capped. You see that piece of polythene sheeting blowing around in that abandoned car park? That’s your new home. When Labour was in power they did nothing to stimulate the construction of new homes for rent; the emphasis was on property-ownership – whether mortgaged or part-mortgaged. The capital receipts that local authorities acquired from the sale of council houses still cannot be spent on the building of new homes and the Tories will not change this because they continue to labour under the misguided belief that social housing creates social problems. Rents in the private sector have increased exponentially in the last 20 years and why is this? Because of the over-inflated prices in the property market. The rush for buy-to-let homes under Labour didn’t help matters much either. Hosuing benefit had to increase in order to keep pace with rising private sector rents. Telling people to “shop around”, as the Tories did under Major, will not help those looking for a place to rent either. You have a choice of a draughty hovel or a damp hovel. Which do you prefer? Remember Rachman? Well, he’s back in business and rubbing his hands with glee. In fact, there will be more Rachmans and van Hoogstratens too. The Tories love entrepreneurship.
This budget will widen the gap between rich and poor. Even those with fairly decent incomes will find it tough. But picking on those who are either on benefits or low incomes while The City still rakes in huge sums of money is pretty low. Is this what the Big Society is all about?