Rishi Sunak’s budget envisages reductions in spending for public services, including the NHS, over the next few years, as well a return later in the year to the lower level of Universal Credit. By not raising tax thresholds, he increasing the real levels of income tax for most people, and by not addressing social care funding he is forcing councils to raise Council Tax by 5 per cent.
It’s clear that this is an austerity budget for public services and the living standards of all except the rich – he failed to introduce any new taxes on wealth, and by extending the stamp duty holiday is pushing house prices ever higher, putting house purchase further out of reach for young people.
Obviously Mr Sunak – who was behind the disastrous early lifting of pandemic restrictions last summer and the failure to lock down in September, which has cost tens of thousands of lives – has learned nothing from the last year. He is not interested in ensuring that the NHS is able to cope with the next pandemic. As far as Devon is concerned, this probably means that NHS managers will be looking for cuts again soon, and there could be new threats to our community hospitals round the corner.