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People Are Not Numbers: Labour's Budget

Matty Bradford

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I had an excellent economics professor in university who, with his first lecture, taught me the most important lesson about the subject. We may think economics and finance are fields about numbers. But they’re not.

Economics and finance are fields about people.

And People Are Not Numbers. 

Not too long ago, I made a speech in which I listed the names of certain billionaires who stand to benefit from the government’s budget. Now I will recite the names of people who are not famous. They are simply regular people I have met in recent weeks.

Dean Adkins.

Rumki Chatterjee

Lona Fitzpatrick

Peter Hughes

Kia Lee

Jacqueline Smith

Lorraine Corbette

Angela Tonks

Selena Baker

Mohammad Siddiqui

I mention their names because some of them have lost work. Or their spouses have lost work. Or they’re worried about losing their jobs.

They have anxiety about keeping a roof over their heads. They worry about what they’ll do when they won’t have enough groceries at the end of the week. They despair when they see their favourite takeaway go out of business and shut its doors. 

And none of this is because of anything they did on their own. All of this is because a bunch of bankers couldn’t resist the temptation of betting on worthless American mortgages.

So, we want to do something for the people I mentioned above and the people all across Great Britain just like them. 

Our government would give everyone in this country an immediate £1,000 stimulus cheque to all households that make less than £70,000 a year or less. These cheques will come from the Bank of England, and will not count against the debt nor deficit. 

To also further help the people -- not the billionaires, but the people -- of this country, we will be reducing the VAT from 17.5% to 17%. That is a tax cut for all consumers on the goods and services they buy to live their lives. We are also increasing the personal allowance to £7,000 to put more money directly in people’s pockets.

We can talk about the macroeconomic ramifications of what increased consumer spending will mean for the nation. 

But People Are Not Numbers.

These cheques will help people pay their mortgage or rent. These cheques will help people pay for more than a few weeks of groceries. These cheques will help families make sure their children have clothes that fit. These cheques will help people enjoy themselves out to a night at their High Street pub to enjoy a badly needed pint during a very tough time.

Most, most importantly, these cheques will give people hope that we can -- and will -- weather this storm together. 

The next name I would like to introduce is Elizabeth and Judy Dutton, both of whom live in Reading. 

Judy Dutton is 82-years-old and suffers from dementia and has had several bad falls over the years. She needs near-constant nursing care. Elizabeth is her only daughter. She’s 58, and she had to leave her job working as a produce manager at a Tesco’s because there was no other way her mum could get the care she needs and, frankly, has earned.

The costs of Judy caring for her mother are extraordinary. They have to try and get by on their pensions and savings alone. It takes Elizabeth a lot of effort to find a way to budget to get through the week, as she sees the money tick away.

But there’s such a cost for Elizabeth just to leave her job. She was at the top end of the pay scale where she worked. When the sad day of her mum’s passing arrives, she will now have to go look for work... now as an older woman who left the workforce for several years, in an economy bleeding out jobs. It’s going to be incredibly tough for her to find employment that leaves her feeling dignified.

Judy and Elizabeth’s story happens all across our nation. People cannot afford quality care for family members who need it. They -- and disproportionately it’s women -- have to leave the workforce to make this happen. There are immediate lost wages and further lost wages. And we will only see more people in Elizabeth and Judith’s positions as our nation greys.

Our National Care Service changes this situation for so many people. As you will see throughout our budget, and as my colleagues have commented elsewhere, a variety of new taxes -- a plan we will detail further -- will provide for this badly needed plan.

Our parents and grandparents and infirmed family members can get the quality care they’ve earned. And it also will allow so many people to stay employed. 

Plus, during times like these, a lot of economists believe that investing in infrastructure is a way to help reverse course with the economy. There are well-paying direct jobs created, along with the multiplier effect that indirectly creates more work and employment. 

Infrastructure traditionally means trains and planes and ports.

 But the creation of the NCS is in itself a different type of infrastructure. We will need to create new NCS facilities that will create construction jobs. We will need to hire many more care workers to help them work. We will need support staff. These create jobs in local areas -- and in many areas that need jobs. These facilities will need to purchase equipment and food and supplies from nearby local businesses. 

But again.

People Are Not Numbers. 

Now, another two people I’d love to discuss are Maurice Lim and Shui Tsang. Maurice is a 42-year-old diabetic who frequently visits the NHS facility in Oxford for his care. Shui is a nurse in this unit and frequently works with Maurice.

But Shui works with more than just Maurice. She works with dozens and dozens of patients, all of whom have medical conditions like diabetes. These patients need testing. These people have questions. These people have concerns. Shui is the person who helps these people manage their illnesses and is a part of their lives.

This government looks at Shui and her colleagues as a possible way to increase “efficiency” by making her redundant. They look at her just as they do a procurement order.

We know how important Shui and all of the nurses and doctors and workers in the NHS are. We know how important all of our civil servants are -- be they police officers or teachers or rail conductors. That’s why we’ve consulted with the union and have determined they have earned a three percent raise.

Further, we also know how important NHS facilities are to local communities. They are also job creators and hugely important to local economies. We will be building 10 new hospitals and 125 new clinics. We will employ 5,000 new nurses, 500 new doctors, and 1,000 more staff. 

Now, we know we will need to train many new people to fill these positions -- as well as jobs in any number of industries. Because of this, we are creating 35,000 new apprenticeship positions, with a 10 percent increase in funding per apprentice. We are also adding in 6,585 new entrant places for higher education, with an increase of £500 per student. And we will also have an increase of 5% for education spending, total.

And Maurice? He has a bevy of prescriptions he must have filled on a regular basis. We will reduce these fees by £1. In many ways, this is a tax cut that will help Maurice save a lot of money over the years.

Those are just some of the ways that we are showing People Are Not Numbers.

Here are some more initiatives under our budget that we are fully supportive of.

We understand the concerns about crime and it will likely increase as times grow harder. We will hire 5,000 new bobbies. And we will also hire 1,000 more firefighters. And, as we are a society that believes that people deserve a chance at correcting their lives from past mistakes they have made, we are increasing the budget for rehabilitation by £300 million.

Our party took the lead when flooding ravaged parts of this nation earlier this year. We will increase our budget to develop infrastructure to mitigate damages from flooding by £1.8 billion. 

Further, we also know how flooding ties directly into issues of climate change and what we must do to halt prepare for and hopefully stem its destructive rise. We will inject £1 billion into scaling up renewable energy investing, and we will do so by focusing on developing green energy jobs in formerly industrial towns in Northern and Midlands communities.

We will immediately eliminate all fares for the London Underground. We have also committed to eliminating bus fares for all residents under the age of 25, in addition to a 5% increase for our highways agency.

We understand the need in many places for better and newer social housing. We are committed to doing just that and will dedicate £1 billion into constructing new social housing.

Now, how will we be paying for this? 

Our party believes that everyone has to pay their fair share. And during tough times, that is even more important. The well-off just become more well-off as more people fall down the social mobility ladder. We have a social fabric to maintain, and those who have also have a responsibility to give. 

Income taxes will rise for the small numbers of us who make more than £68,000 or more a year. 

But there is a difference between income and wealth. And many people in this country do not derive their livelihoods from salaried income, but from the assets they hold. 
As such, we are applying a 2.5% tax on households that have assets greater than £10,000,000. The government wants people with this type of income to have insurance if the banking section of their portfolios drop. We would like them to pay for nursing care.

In addition, ultimately, the people who brought us into our current predicament are not the citizens of this nation but people in the corporate suite level of giant financial institutions who decided to take gigantic risks that have put our lives through the ringer.

They must not be able to take that degree of risk. So, to influence them to do so, we will impose a bank levy as a way to make them think again the next time they want to give each other bonuses for a job not well done that results in someone losing their career.

Because our budget and our party believe in the citizens of this country. We believe our citizens want a government that will help them take steps back not just to their feet, but to help find new sands to walk across. 

We have created a budget that is not a technocratic set of numbers. 

We have created a budget for the people.

Because People Are Not Numbers

Edited by Tabitha Kinsey
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