Many of the themes in this budget are reflective of principles UKIP laid out in the party’s general election manifesto, the only fully costed and most praised policy document during the campaign. Yet without bold commitments to scrap EU contributions, the HS2 vanity project and significantly reducing foreign aid, this government simply is not restoring fiscal responsibility to the country at a rate that we find acceptable.
Deficit reduction is still too slow. The deficit will still be running at £70bn this year, a rate that is still far too high, and means we will not get into surplus until 2019 or 2020.
We strongly oppose scrapping the student maintenance grant and replacing it with a loan. Once again this shows a typical Tory adherence to the class system that simply fails to recognise why young people from low income backgrounds need financial support in order to compete.
UKIP is broadly in support of welfare reform and has always supported a benefits cap. While benefits have risen by 20% on average, wages have increased by only 11%, and this cannot be right. However, we are uneasy about the lower benefits cap outside London that may come to affect hundreds of thousands of people.
We are also concerned about limiting public sector pay increases to 1% a year over the next four years, given the projections for economic growth at over 2% rise per year. We think this may cause hardship for the lowest paid public sector workers and would argue that such a pay restriction should only apply to those on higher level salaries. We are also disappointed that the personal allowance is still limited to £11,000 as we believe those on minimum wage should not pay any income tax, which would require a threshold of at least £13,000 by the end of Parliament.
We do though support the increase in defence spending to meet NATO requirements of 2% of GDP and have always fought hard for this commitment. However we suspect this figure may include the war pensions bill, meaning the increase will not necessarily be spent on front line resources.