Last Wednesday the Chancellor delivered this year’s Budget Statement in the House of Commons.
The Budget is a chance for the Government to set out its economic strategy and priorities for the year, and it is one of the most eagerly anticipated, most heavily trailed and nevertheless closely-guarded secrets in the Parliamentary calendar.
Although there are a series of measures within the budget that we can all agree on, it soon became clear that there were some serious divisions between the political parties on points of principle.
Pension annuities: The biggest announcement was on annuities – the ability of pensioners to draw down a lump sum from their savings on (or during) their retirement. There are many pensioners who will benefit from this change, and the principle that people should be allowed to do with their money what they want is an important one.
Having served for some years on the Work and Pensions Select Committee in the last Parliament, we looked closely at this policy and there are some serious concerns that those pensioners who do not have a large pension pot and want to draw down a lump sum might leave themselves exposed in the future. An annuity allows pensioners a regular and secure income for as long as they live.
What we do not want to see is pensioners plunged into deeper poverty because they have not had the correct advice or have been preyed on financial conmen who persuade them to cash in their pensions. I will continue to press the government to ensure that the right safeguards are in place to make sure that this policy works for all pensioners and protects those on the lowest income.
I was, though, disappointed not to see more in the budget to help the most vulnerable. Wages are down an average of £1,600 while family energy bills have increased by £300. The budget did nothing to address those issues.
As far as Derbyshire is concerned, spending for local government is still not meeting the needs of those people who depend on local council services which are being forced to be cut to the bone.