My initial response to the budget today:

This budget comes after ten years of cuts, flat lining wages and a widening gap between those at the top and everybody else.

We were promised the biggest increase in investment in a generation, but in reality, all that’s been announced is that they will take us back to where we were in 2010 when the Conservatives first took the decision to slash public services, including in Luton where our local councillors have been forced to find £130m in savings over the last few years.

This budget comes at an unprecedented moment as the country shifts its focus to taking on the coronavirus. After 10 years of cuts, I welcome any assistance the Chancellor can offer to our NHS to fight the virus. With this, I hope the government reflects on what’s happening here. After a decade of deep cuts to NHS and public health budgets, the ability of our services to withstand an unforeseen crisis looks uncertain.

I’m disappointed with the measures they’ve announced to protect workers as we deal with coronavirus. No one can live on £18 a day statutory sick pay and if the government are expecting up to 20% of the country to self-isolate, I’m worried what this will mean for working families. I’ll be pushing the government to make sure that no worker is out of pocket or at risk of losing their job by doing the right thing and following public health advice over the coming weeks and months in the face of the virus.

As well as this, one of the most disappointing things is that thousands of Waspi women will continue to be left out of pocket.

Overall, our economy is fundamentally weak. The economy grew by 0% at the end of last year – and that was before coronavirus; life expectancy is falling for the first time in 100 years; and last year food bank usage went up by 22%.

This budget has been a missed opportunity for the government to repair the damage they’ve done to our communities and our public services over the last ten years.

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