The West Country Debate March: Budget reaction, strikes and sewage

  • Catch up March's edition of The West Country Debate

The UK economy is right on track, claimed the Chancellor during this week's Budget.

Under new more optimistic forecasts, inflation will more than halve and a recession will be avoided.

There were even enough funds available for a landmark reform of childcare - with the aim of getting more people back to work.

But critics point out that right now - the country is still at a standstill - wrestling with ongoing industrial action and stagnating growth.

On the panel this month:

  • Kevin Foster MP, Torbay

  • Luke Pollard MP, Labour, Plymouth Sutton and Devonport

  • Cllr Tessa Munt, candidate for Wells

The Chancellor believes we face the future with 'extraordinary potential' as he detailed a Budget which was designed to encourage more people back into work as well as protect the most vulnerable from the cost of living crisis.

Conservative MPs hailed it as a boring but necessary.

But Labour leader Keir Starmer pointed out this Budget focussed on growth but had a downgraded growth forecast.

Luke Pollard MP said this was a Budget "benefiting the super wealthy" after the Chancellor scrapped the limit on how much people can put into their pension pot tax free.

He also criticised the government for failing to deliver on NHS waiting lists which was not mentioned at all during Wednesday's speech.

Kevin Foster MP said: "Everyone who fills up their car, this Budget will make a difference. Hosueholds benefiting from the energy price guarantee, this will make a difference. And the childcare reform - thousands of parents will benefit."

He added: "NHS doctors are cancelling having to retire early because we're going to remove the tax penalty for them to carry on working."

Cllr Tessa Munt says the Tories have got the wrong priorities.

She said: "The amount of stress being caused by energy bills being double what they were a couple of years ago is enormous. We know the typical household income is going to drop by £1100 and £650 of that is due to taxi rises. It's bonkers and it's not real help."