Former NI secretary condemns his own party’s mini-budget, calls ‘huge tax cut’ for the very wealthy

Former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Julian Smith has criticized his own party’s budget as “wrong” at a time of heightened fear over the cost of living crisis.

The mini-budget announced by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has been roundly criticized by parties in Northern Ireland, while the DUP welcomes some aspects.

Mr Kwarteng unveiled the biggest package of tax cuts in 50 years as he ushered in a “new era” for the UK economy.

Income tax and stamp duty on home purchases will be reduced and planned increases in business taxes have been scrapped.

Mr. Kwarteng said that a major change of direction is needed to kick-start economic growth.

But Labor said it would not solve the cost of living crisis and was a “plan to reward the already rich”.

Mr Smith said: “In a statement containing many positive corporate measures, this massive tax cut for the very wealthy at a time of national crisis and real fear and anxiety among low-income workers and citizens is wrong.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood MP said the UK government’s mini-budget was “designed by millionaires for millionaires”, rather than by those in need.

Mr Eastwood said the Tories had proved once again that they were more interested in looking after big business and the wealthy while leaving people in communities in the North and Britain to fend for themselves.

Foyle MP, Mr Eastwood, said: “Rather than trying to help the millions of people on these islands who are mired in a cost of living emergency, we got a budget from the UK government today from millionaires for millionaires. .

“These plans show how detached this government is from the desperate situation facing families.

“Instead of taking further steps to help people heat their homes and put food on the table this winter, we saw a number of measures that will make the rich richer, while leaving our communities out in the cold.”

He added: “A decision to lift the cap on bankers’ bonuses at a time when many people’s salaries do not cover their basic needs is extremely vulgar.

“This is the Tory party acting as they have always done and making sure their wealthy lenders and big corporations are well taken care of, without thinking about the rest of us.

“Trickledown economics doesn’t work, it never worked and all it will achieve is to increase inequality at a time when those who are struggling have less than ever before.

“The Liz Truss government has also shown their utter disregard for the people in the north they promised to help navigate this emergency. Offering the majority of people who rely on oil heating an extra £100 when that wouldn’t even be enough to place an order in most places shows where we stand in their priorities.

“What people in the north need is real support and they don’t get it from Westminster. The SDLP has put in place a plan to get 1000L of home heating oil to everyone who needs it, these are the kinds of solutions our communities will get through this winter and it’s time we see similar political leadership from this government.”

DUP East Antrim MP and Treasury spokesman Sammy Wilson has said that while some of the measures in the Chancellor’s statement are welcome, his party is “disappointed” that the government has so far failed to intervene to help working families through tax-free childcare increase .

Mr Wilson said: “The commitment to helping people keep more of their money is welcome and will help the economy grow. Reversing the rise in National Insurance is right and a step we are taking with the Chancellor and his predecessors. have insisted.

“This puts real money back in people’s pockets, allowing them to pay the higher fuel and food costs. The increase was never justified.

“While the announcement about investment zones sounds encouraging, we need to remove the Northern Ireland Protocol and replace it with schemes that benefit Northern Ireland.

“I am disappointed that the Tax Free Childcare Allowance has not increased from the current 20%. However, I take note of the Chancellor’s response to my question in which he undertook that his ministerial colleagues would look into the matter.

“Childcare is a huge expense for working families. This was a missed opportunity to increase the tax-free allowance that would release parents into the workplace and help childcare providers.

“The energy support schemes are welcome, but the current £100 proposal for oil-heated homes is not acceptable. I am pleased that the government is working on a better support scheme for oil users and will legislate for this in London, but time is running out and we need to see more details. Oil customers have increased the cost of filling their tanks by 300%.

“The failure to implement a more effective windfall tax on energy producers is also a missed opportunity to raise more money that could help hard-working working families. These companies make colossal profits not through their own innovative efforts, but through global events. They should be taxed accordingly.

“Likewise, more efforts should be made to collect taxes from the online giants who currently pay little to no tax in the UK, while our high street retailers are taxed on all fronts.”

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