Mixed reaction from politicians across the Portsmouth area to Rishi Sunak's 'mini budget' as residents face soaring costs

POLITICIANS across the Portsmouth area have voiced mixed reactions to the Chancellor’s ‘mini budget,’ warning residents are still set for a ‘struggle’ as living costs soar.

Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 6:20 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 6:43 pm

As part of Rishi Sunak’s spring statement he set out ‘three immediate measures’, including slashing fuel duty by 5p per litre, cutting VAT on energy efficiency measures and putting £500m into the household support fund.

Mr Sunak added that 70 per cent of workers are set for an effective tax cut as part of a plan to lift the National Insurance threshold by £3,000.

This has been met with differing views from local MPs and council figures.

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Penny Mordaunt and Stephen Morgan

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Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, of the Conservative Party, welcomed the move. She said: 'I wanted to see policies in this statement to promote growth and tackle serious pressures on household budgets and business costs.

'I particularly welcome the large cut to fuel duty and the tax cuts for individuals and small business.

'I'm glad the Household Support Fund has been doubled - it is needed.'

However, Labour politician and Portsmouth South representative Stephen Morgan was not impressed.

He said: 'The chancellor had the perfect opportunity today to protect working families and businesses in Portsmouth facing the cost-of-living crisis. Instead, he blew it.

'The Tories continue to push ahead with imposing one of the biggest tax burdens in post-war history, offering next to nothing for those struggling to make ends meet, week after week, month after month.

'Labour said his national insurance hike was the wrong tax. Wrong time. Wrong choice. Today, the chancellor all but admitted he got that one wrong. He simply doesn’t understand the scale of the challenges families and communities are facing.

'Labour has a plan on the table ready to go to support working people now, but the Conservatives have consistently failed to back it.

'I will continue to lobby government and do all I can to secure the support families and businesses in Portsmouth need and deserve.'

The leader of Portsmouth City Council, Liberal Democrat Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said the chancellor's new policies were 'disproportionately helping the super-rich'.

'An income tax of a penny will help the super rich more than actually not doing the increase in National Insurance,’ he said.

'It seems designed to help those on the richest incomes and I think that's the wrong decision.

'Raising the (National Insurance payment) threshold by £3,000 is sensible. Personally I would have got rid of the increase increase instead of a cut in income tax, because National Insurance has a cap so when people have salaries over a certain amount, you pay no more National Insurance.'

The council leader encouraged residents struggling with their budgets to reach out to the council, Advice Portsmouth, and Citizens Advice Bureau.

He said: 'Come and get advice with your money, don't get into ever increasing debt. Do come and ask for help, we can provide it.'

Other Tory politicians in the area supported the Chancellor’s decisions.

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said: ‘The last few months have been extremely tough for many of the Gosport constituency’s residents and I am glad that the Chancellor’s Budget aims to provide further assistance and support to households with the rising cost of living.

‘Many of my constituents have contacted me with concerns about the rising cost of fuel amidst other price rises and so I welcome the decision to cut fuel duty by 5 per cent, and the National Insurance reduction, which will more than cover the new NI levy for the 70 per cent least well-off. This will make a profound difference to many households.’

Flick Drummond, who represents Meon Valley, agreed. She said: 'I think this statement has really helped those struggling with the cost of living and I welcome it. There is no magic wand any chancellor can wave when we face global challenges like Covid, supply issues and war in Ukraine – all pushing up prices.'Inflation will eat into people’s pockets for some time but the support from the government is substantial, targeted and responsible.’

Havant MP Alan Mak MP added: ‘The spring statement helps families, businesses and communities across the Havant constituency. Cutting fuel duty by 5p and reducing National Insurance helps people keep more of their own money as we tackle global inflation issues made worse by the invasion of Ukraine.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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