Depending on your perspective, yesterday’s Summer Budget showed George Osborne to be ‘the listening Chancellor’, as he ‘borrowed’ policies (or at least the language these policies are clothed in) from the opposition; or ‘the thieving Chancellor’, as he ‘stole Labour’s clothes’.
Most notably, of course, the Chancellor ‘borrowed’ the language of ‘the Living Wage‘, pulling the proverbial rabbit out of the hat with his phrase ‘Britain deserves a pay rise’ and announcing what is, in effect, a new band of the National Minimum Wage – £7.20 an hour for over-25s, starting next April.
The commentariat went to town on this one, in particular, with Twitter feeds across the land scrolling like mad – some lauding the Chancellor’s bravery in ‘rewarding hard-working Britain’, others pointing out that £7.20 per hour was far from a ‘Living Wage’ particularly given the raid on in-work benefits.
Notably measured was the comment from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation‘s Chief Julia Unwin who said “The move to create a national wage which reflects living costs is an important and welcome recognition that the minimum wage falls well short of achieving an adequate standard of living.”
Read Julia Unwin’s instant reaction in her blog.
To me, frankly, the announcement reminded me most of Malcolm Tucker. I could just ‘hear’ him plotting the theft, and the emasculation, of an opposition policy – there’s probably a part of him that would have just loved the Twitter parody #CallThingsTheLivingWageThatArent!
If you weren’t able to catch the detail yesterday, you can read a transcript of the Chancellor’s speech.
The good folks at gov.uk quickly published the budget in full and supporting documents – even a distributional analysis.
There’s more. Much more:
A total of nine claims, from both sides of the house, have been fact-checked by FullFact – an illuminating read. The Chancellor did not badly, with three of five claims being backed up, and one (on Britain’s road network ranking behind Puerto Rico and Namibia) judged to be on rather shaky ground. Trouble is, the ‘big’ claim – on the National Living Wage – doesn’t stand up at all. The acting Leader of the Opposition arguably did better, with three out of four claims checked more or less standing up, and one needing further clarification.
Independent think-tank, the Resolution Foundation, put forward their analysis. Readers will recognise that not only are there the usual winners and losers, but the poorest in society, disabled people, young people and two-family parents with children will be significantly harmed by this budget. “For example, a low earning couple with three children making a new claim would be £3,450 worse off following the tax and welfare policies set out in today’s budget.”
The National Council of Voluntary Organisations‘ excellent Karl Wilding gathered comments and analysis from a range of sources, including trenchant criticism from Shelter and from the Child Poverty Action Group. Well worth a read.
I’d like to know how You felt yesterday, but here are the announcements that worry me the most: Young People will no longer be entitled to Housing Benefit, The National Living Wage will only kick in after 25, Families may no longer claim social security benefits for a third child, Benefits to disabled claimants will be cut, and – of course – the Living Wage that isn’t anything like a Living Wage.
And Finally, in the spirit of the ‘if we did’nae laugh, we’d greet’ hashtag #CallThingsTheLivingWageThatArent, I think it’s time for a little Living Wage – perhaps I’ll wake up with the ‘right’ perspective!