Weir warns of impact on families

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Angus MP Mike Weir has warned the Autumn Statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer contains, at best, mixed news for Angus.

Whilst welcoming the rise in pensions he noted that many working families would see tax credits frozen which would impact upon family budgets.

Commenting on the changes in fuel duty, which will effect families and businesses throughout Angus, Mr Weir said: “Whilst any reduction in fuel duty will be welcomed by local families and businesses, even here there has been a sleight of hand in that it will reduce by 2p and not the widely reported 3p.

“What the Chancellor has done is defer the 3p increase from January to August and cancel the additional 2p increase in August. At a time of stagnant wages this means that the cost of fuel will still increase by 3p due to taxation over and above any rises due to changes in world prices.

“It is high time the UK government took real action on this matter and introduced a fuel duty stabiliser to ensure a stable price to allow businesses to plan ahead.”

Mr Weir also raised concerns about the little noticed section in the speech regarding regional pay policy.

He continued: “If the Chancellor does introduce regional pay it may well have the effect of reducing pay in areas such as Angus whilst increasing it in the south of England. This could have a disastrous effect by taking money out of the local economy of Angus and further increase the divisions between wealthier and poorer areas. This cannot be allowed to happen.”

He also warned the overall growth figure and capital budgets meant there was no certainty that monies announced would actually help the economy in the short term.

“The really grim part of the statement was the announcement that economic growth was forecast to be just 0.7 per cent in 2012, down from the previous forecast of 2.5%. That is a dramatic fall.

“Although the Chancellor has finally conceded the need for greater infrastructure development the truth of the matter is that much of that announced will not be available until well after 2012, which means that it cannot be used to give immediate help to tackle low growth and help employment.

“Worse still although the Scottish Government have been told the capital implications of the statement they have yet to be told how revenue budgets are to be effected, yet the chancellor made clear capital will be found by reducing revenue.

“The Scottish Government have done much within their limited powers to prioritise infrastructure and keep Scotland working, to the extent that the Scottish economy has been performing better than the UK as a whole. We do need, however, full fiscal control to provide a budget for Scottish needs.”