This Budget took place against a backdrop of spiralling inequality affecting millions of individuals and families across the UK. People’s pay and benefits have fallen way below prices of food, energy and everyday goods over the last decade, and this has been massively exacerbated by the Cost-of-Living crisis.
The JustMoney Movement calls for policies that demonstrate love of neighbour and care for creation. As Christians we want to live in a society that looks after the most vulnerable and stewards the earth. This week doctors, teachers and train drivers are striking over pay and conditions. 90% of those on Universal Credit are now unable to afford life’s essentials while the UK has a record number of billionaires since the pandemic. We need major changes to address this extreme inequality and to invest in public services, including through the tax system. Meanwhile the climate emergency looms on the horizon, requiring long term structural change to transition the economy to “net zero” carbon emissions.
In that context the Budget was deeply disappointing. A three-month extension of the Energy Price Guarantee scheme is welcome, but we need long term reform of the energy market so everyone has access to clean, affordable energy. Some of the changes to childcare and disability sound encouraging, but tax cuts for big companies and lifting the lifetime pensions allowance are measures that help the best-off in society while the most vulnerable continue to suffer. And in a week when there have been warning signs of turmoil in the global financial markets, the talk of further deregulation should sound alarm bells, when we need a finance sector that serves people and planet, not the other way around.
The Cost-of-Living crisis isn’t going to magically disappear anytime soon, but this Budget suggests that is just what the Chancellor is counting on. The Government can afford to do more to tackle inequality and help the most vulnerable, and those with the broadest shoulders should be making a greater contribution. We desperately needed the Chancellor to deliver real change in this Budget, but sadly, he didn’t.
Ahead of the Budget the JustMoney Movement delivered a letter signed by over 2000 Christians urging the Chancellor to introduce new taxes on wealth. Recent research reveals that a 2% annual wealth tax on people with over £10 million in assets could alone raise £22 billion. We will continue to campaign for such changes, which are urgently needed to address inequality, help the vulnerable and tackle the climate crisis.
 Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2023
 Times Rich List, 2023
 Tax Justice UK and Patriotic Millionaires, 2023
Photo Credit: Richard Townshend, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons