Spring budget 2017: Tower Hamlets mayoral candidate ‘stands up’ to government

Independent group councillor and mayoral candidate Ohid Ahmed meets with a resident in Roman Road Ma

Independent group councillor and mayoral candidate Ohid Ahmed meets with a resident in Roman Road Market ahead of yesterday's budget. - Credit: Archant

Independent candidate for mayor and Tower Hamlets councillor Ohid Ahmed shares his views following yesterday’s spring budget announcement by chancellor Philip Hammond.

We have had the ‘Northern Powerhouse’. In his budget the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, gave us the ‘Midlands Engine’. But here in the East End of London, we are still waiting for the train to arrive at the station.

Judging by this budget, we will have to wait a lot longer.

Take small businesses for instance. Too many Tower Hamlets small enterprises will take a hit as business rates rise sharply.

If you run a newsagent on the Isle of Dogs or a restaurant on Brick Lane, you won’t be cheering Chancellor Hammond.

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Local authorities have been handed a paltry £300m as a relief to those hit hardest by this unnecessary rise.

Then there is his promise to raise National Insurance payments for the self-employed, which is a direct contradiction to the promises made in the Tory Manifesto. The Government has clobbered self-employed workers on low and middle incomes for £2 billion, including many of our residents, while conveniently forgetting how little security low-paid self-employed workers have.

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There was nothing in this budget on tackling poor job quality or creating new, proper jobs, or helping Tower Hamlets which has one of the worst rates of child poverty, drug crimes and a growing population.

Yet we are growing economically with our award-winning Whitechapel Vision and record housing projects.

In Britain, we have one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and yet for seven, grinding years, we have been locked into austerity.

It is a disgrace that many people in Tower Hamlets do not know how much work they will have from week to week. It is unforgivable that in this wealthy city, too many people in our borough live in overcrowded accommodation or use food banks.

There was no mention of one of the biggest needs in our borough and elsewhere across the country - urgent funds for council house building.

What the Chancellor gives with one hand – as in increases to the collapsing social care sector – he effectively takes from the other –NHS spending will not rise this year.

What we are seeing are tax cuts for big corporations, people earning more than £50k and couples who can afford to put £40k per year into an ISA. That may be good news for them, but not for most people.

When the government wanted your vote, they promised to eliminate the deficit – but it is not happening.

They promised to reduce taxes for ‘hard working families’ – but that is not happening either.

They promised to be the ‘greenest government ever’ – which is certainly not happening.

All in all, there isn’t much for Tower Hamlets to cheer today.

For years, we have seen local government as the small kid in the playground Ministers like to bully.

For too long, some of our areas and people have been left to rot as power and wealth is re-distributed to the top.

I want to see our local MPs and our local Mayor taking a much more robust stand against the injustices dropped on people from on high.

I want them to resist the salami slicing of budgets and the sly dumping of those responsibilities the government doesn’t want on local authorities, while they take away those they really want from us, such as education.

Ministers can only get away with so much of what they do if those they seek to bully flinch from fighting back. Together, we all must now stand up to them.

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