Sir Keir Starmer criticized the pension changes in the Budget as “a huge gift to some of the richest people in the country”, as the leader of the opposition Labor Party described the fiscal statement as insufficient to address the UK’s situation. Europe”.
The response is in line with recent messages from the Labor leader that the government is too slow to recognize the scale of the challenges facing the UK.
“We have to be at the start line, not tying up our laces and back in the changing room,” the Labor leader told the House of Commons in response to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s budget.
Stuart Hosie of the Scottish National Party, the third largest party in the Commons, echoed elements of Starmer’s criticism.
The Chancellor had failed to “make a dent” in life crisis spending, Hosey said in his party’s response to the Budget.
“The Chancellor should have chosen to help families by cutting energy bills, increasing public sector pay in line with inflation and introducing a real living wage,” Hosey said. “Instead it has chosen to make people poorer – withdrawing vital support and imposing real-terms cuts to incomes.”
Starmer also asserted that his party had shaped many of the government’s economic policies.
“Who first called for an energy price guarantee?” Storm asked. “Labor! Who first called for a proper windfall tax? Labour!”
However, his most focused criticism was the unexpected decision to abolish the lifetime cap on tax-free pension contributions, as well as the increase in the annual allowance for contributions. Scrapping the lifetime cap, previously £1mn, was part of a package which the chancellor described as designed to keep people such as senior doctors in work for longer. The annual tax-free limit was increased from £40,000 to £60,000.
“Today’s announcement is a huge gift to some of the wealthiest people in the country,” Starmer said.
The Labor leader also stressed that the UK has suffered more than other countries as a result of inflation and the war in Ukraine due to government policies.
“The war did not ban onshore wind,” Starmer told the Commons, referring to the government’s bar on new onshore wind farms. “The war did not run down gas storage. The war did not stop home insulation grants.
Starmer’s message that the budget did little to solve the UK’s problems was echoed by Dame Meg Hillier, the Labor chair of the Commons Public Accounts Select Committee.
The MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch said: “This budget does nothing to tackle the fundamental problem in my constituency, which is housing conditions.”
Starmer suggested that Hunt had missed an opportunity to raise more money by not targeting overseas UK residents for higher taxes. That group is vulnerable to the government because the prime minister’s wife previously held “non-dom” status.
“They could have created sensible tax policies on non-domes and oil and gas companies and made the tax system work for working people,” Starmer told the Commons.
However, he said the general public would have heard “very little” in Hunt’s speech to encourage him.
“The verdict on this budget is clear – managed cuts, Britain going backwards, the sick man of Europe once again,” he said.
Starmer added that working people were entitled to ask themselves after 13 years of Conservative rule if they were better off than when they came into office.
“The overwhelming answer is no – and they know it,” he said of the government.