Many Covid-hit public services still face a crisis while Rishi Sunak hails his ‘new age of optimism’ budget – Labour claimed the chancellor was living in a ‘parallel universe’
The Chancellor said Whitehall departments would see a real terms funding rise totalling £150billion by 2025, and he was able to splash the cash as the UK economy was “firmly back on track”.
But Labour claimed he was living in a “parallel universe” as some Covid-hit public services still faced a crisis.
School leaders called a £5bn fund to help children catch up on lost learning after Covid “completely inadequate”.
Town halls said the £4.8bn for local government does not “come close” to plugging council budget shortfalls and care charities say the Chancellor failed to grip the “enormity of the crisis” in staff shortages.
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The funding shortfall to some public services comes despite spending being at its highest level since the Tories came to power a decade ago.
Most of the £150bn is coming from higher-than-expected growth and the biggest tax take since the 1950s.
Criticism was most intense from education leaders as Mr Sunak’s catch-up fund fell short of the £15bn proposed by former education recovery tsar Sir Kevan Collins before he quit in June.
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Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Education Union, said Mr Sunak had offered kids a third of what is needed while promising teachers a pay rise with the same cash.
He said: “It is simply not good enough.”
Sir Peter Lampl, founder of the Sutton Trust, was fuming there was no cash for disadvantaged kids, saying the impact “will be felt for years”.
Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)
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Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said of Mr Sunak: “He is offering a measly pound a day of extra catch-up funding for each child, six times less than the tax cut offered to Conservatives’ banker buddies.”
The Ministry of Justice faces a £500m “black hole”, despite a record backlog of 60,000 crown court cases.
Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy accused Tories of “leaving victims to suffer and offenders to get away with their crimes”.
Mr Sunak trumpeted a £6bn package to clear NHS pandemic backlogs. But with staff shortages and scarce public health and social care investment, charities fear the worst.
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Heidi Travis, of Sue Ryder, said hospices are now “under threat” while Macmillan Cancer Support urged ministers to “urgently invest” in recruiting specialist cancer nurses – or cancer patients will “pay the price”.
Town halls face a “triple whammy” of ballooning inflation, higher wage costs and support for Covid-hit communities.
The District Councils Network said a £4.8bn local government budget did not “come close” and local authorities face hiking council tax or cutting services.