Budget reaction: How will Oldham benefit?

OLDHAM COUNCIL leader Jim McMahon says the Chancellor’s ‘disappointing’ Budget does little to help local authorities.

Cllr Jim McMahon headshot
Cllr Jim McMahon

Chancellor George Osbourne outlined Budget plans on March 18, including a rise in personal allowance, beer duty to be cut, pension rules to be relaxed and investment in rail services.

But Cllr McMahon said: “This is another disappointing budget.

“Despite the business rates proposal meaning we will be able to keep more proceeds from growth it remains a drop in the financial ocean when you consider around £1.5 billion has been cut from the ten GM local authorities.

“Local government has borne the brunt of the reductions and its impact has also been disproportionate.

“In Oldham we’ve had to find £141 million in savings since 2009 – around 40 per cent of our funding has gone.

“I see nothing in this Budget as a gamechanger to that very harsh reality for local authorities and their long-suffering residents and business.

“While some aspects of devolution are welcome opportunities this still looks very much like the transferal of financial responsibility and political blame to councils for what is likely to be the continued withdrawal of vital local services.”

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, added: “The budget is simply promising more of the same massive cuts for the next three to four years that will be even deeper and more damaging to public services.

“When the Chancellor speaks about a recovery it’s a recovery for the privileged few, leaving ordinary families’ wage packets £1,600 a year worse off since 2010.”

But some aspects of the Budget were welcomed by local Liberal Democrat councillors.

Cllr Sykes 2014
Cllr Howard Sykes

Lib Dem Group Leader and Opposition Leader on Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes, said key benefits for the borough include help for children with mental health problems and freezing fuel duty.

He also pointed to the personal allowance increase to £11,000 – a commitment by the Liberal Democrats when they joined the Government – which will help lower and middle income earners.

And he praised new savings income allowances and a new Help to Buy ISA for people buying homes.

He said: “The economy is growing because of the hard work of people and businesses throughout Britain.

“The latest measures announced in the budget will raise an extra £3bn – money that can be spent on schools and hospitals.

“It is paid for by delivering on Liberal Democrat policy by reducing the lifetime allowance for pension contributions, increasing the bank levy, and cracking down on off-shore tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.”

He added: “Also there are no pre-election give-aways which I also welcome.”

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