For me the centrepiece of the Budget was the decision to help the least well off – not just by increasing the personal allowance but also in the ways I set out in the House today, on the final day of the Finance Bill debate.
It is a matter of great concern that over the past decade and a half, the gap between the least well-off and the richest has grown. There is now more inequality. Will it not help to reduce the inequality between pensioners to increase the basic state pension by the biggest amount ever—£5.30, which is a big jump—and to ensure that the richest pensioners do not get such a high benefit, but do not lose out either, by capping the allowance?
One should also take into account the universal credit changes. The IFS report is quite clear that as a result of the changes taken by April 2014 the bottom two deciles are much better off than the other deciles, taking into account the changes made under the coalition. Over the longer term, as reforms are made, we are looking after the least well-off according to the IFS review.
There has to be austerity and there has to be a fiscal tightening because of the chaotic shambles of the nation's finances left by the former Prime Minister and the disaster that we have had, but leaving that aside, if one looks at where the most challenging things are falling, the least well-off are protected under the Budget policy up till April 2014 according to the IFS figures.
See here for the full debate.
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