If covid taught us anything, it’s that we need each other. From the carers keeping us well to the shopkeepers who kept food on our tables, the pandemic showed how much we all rely on each other.
The budget was a chance for the Chancellor to build on that legacy. Instead Rishi Sunak wasted no time setting out dividing lines.
Rather than asking banks to pay more, he gave them a tax cut. This at the same time as he is increasing taxes on ordinary workers through a national insurance rise.
Instead of turbo charging efforts to get to net zero, he cut air passenger duty on domestic flights. This is a backwards step. Many will see this decision as a snub ahead of the COP26 climate summit being held in Glasgow next week.
There was no action to tackle the scandals highlighted by the Pandora Papers. Despite a recession in which the richest and some businesses did very well, there was nothing on wealth taxation or a pandemic profits tax either.
There was welcome investment in local authority spending and £1 billion for the levelling up fund. More money was also announced for education, bringing schools to the level they were at in 2010 according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The cut to Universal Credit was lessened to some degree. The promised funding for the NHS was included.
But as a former Conservative special advisor pointed out, the spending promises were small in the scale of things.
This budget was a missed opportunity that sent the wrong signals on who’s paying higher taxes, clamping down on tax avoidance and curbing climate change.