Former NI Secretary slams his own party’s mini-budget citing ‘huge tax cut’ for the very rich

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

he mini-budget announced by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng drew sharp criticism from parties in Northern Ireland, while the DUP welcomed some aspects.

Mr Kwarteng unveiled the biggest package of tax cuts in 50 years as he hailed 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 cancelled.

Mr Kwarteng said a major change in direction was needed to boost 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 with many positive corporate actions, this huge tax cut for the very wealthy is wrong at a time of national crisis and genuine fear and concern among workers and low-income citizens.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood MP said the UK government’s mini-budget was “designed by millionaires for millionaires” and not by the needy.

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

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

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

“Rather than taking further steps to help people heat their homes and get food on the table this winter, we have seen a range of actions that will result in the rich getting richer while our communities in the standing in the rain.”

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

“This is the Tory party doing what it has always done, making sure its wealthy supporters and big companies are well looked after without thinking of the rest of us.

“The trickledown economy doesn’t work, it never worked, and all it will do is widen inequalities at a time when those who struggle have less than ever.

“The Liz Truss government has also demonstrated its utter disregard for the people of the north, whom it promised to help deal with this emergency. Offering the majority of people who depend on oil heating an extra £100, when in most cases that wouldn’t even be enough to get them to place an order, shows where we stand in their priorities.

“What the people of the North need is real support and they are not getting it from Westminster. The SDLP has drawn up a plan to deliver 1000L of heating oil at home to anyone who needs it. These are the kind of solutions that will get our communities through this winter and it is about time we saw similar political leadership from this government.”

DUP East Antrim MP and Treasury Department spokesman Sammy Wilson said while some measures were welcomed in the Chancellor’s statement, his party was “disappointed” that the government has yet to step in to help working families by extending the tax-free regime to help child care program .

Mr Wilson said: “The commitment to allowing people to keep more of their money is welcome and will help the economy grow. The reversal of the social security increase is correct and a step that we urged the Federal Chancellor and his predecessors to take.

“This will put real money back in people’s pockets and help them pay for increased fuel and food costs. The increase was never justified.

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

“I’m disappointed that the tax-free childcare allowance hasn’t been increased from its current 20%. However, I note the Chancellor’s reply to my question, in which he promised that his fellow ministers would look into the matter.

“Childcare is a huge expense for working families. This was a missed opportunity to increase the tax-free amount that would relieve parents of work and support childcare workers.

“The energy support schemes are welcome but the current proposal of £100 for oil heated homes is unacceptable. I’m glad the government is working on and legislating in London on a better support system for oil consumers, but time is of the essence and we need to see more details. Oil customers have seen a 300% increase in the cost of filling their tanks.

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

“Similarly, there should be more effort to collect taxes from the online giants who currently pay little to no tax in the UK, while our retail outlets are taxed on all fronts.” Former NI Secretary slams his own party’s mini-budget citing ‘huge tax cut’ for the very rich

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