LETTERS: Budget makes poor pay for tax cuts for the rich

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with the dust settling after Budget Day, the clear impact on the poorest members of our society are becoming clear for all to see.

The think-tank, the Resolution Foundation, has established that the richest households will be the greatest beneficiaries from next year’s tax changes.

From April 2017, no one will start paying income tax until they earn £11,500 – up from £11,000 from April 2016. And the threshold for the 40 per cent higher rate of tax will be raised from £43,000 to £45,000.

The Resolution Foundation said that this will mean that the poorest 20 per cent of households will gain just £10 a year on average, while the richest 20 per cent will gain £225.

Contrast these benefits for the richest, with the cuts in benefits to disabled people, representing some of the most vulnerable in our society. This will amount to some £3500 a year, saving the government more than £4 billion by 2020-21 and include more than 40,000 disabled people in 

There is something seriously wrong with a society that balances tax cuts for its richest members on the backs of the poor and disabled.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

City Deal needs vision for a brighter future

It is good news that Edinburgh and neighbouring councils have now moved up a level in securing a City Deal to develop the regional economy (News, March 17).

However, your leader also illustrates the tough choices that now have to be faced. Does the city region embrace a vision of the low-carbon economy which looks ahead 30 or 40 years or does it fall back on failed development thinking?

Does it seek to invest in high quality public transport, a network of paths for walking and cycling, decentralised work hubs, pooled energy supplies and enhanced green and public places on which our best European competitors rest their economic prospectus?

Or does it gravitate towards the familiar, as so many other city deals have done, and bankroll new roads programme (which simply generate yet more traffic, congestion and air pollution), or seek to attract footloose multi-nationals?

With a bit of bolder thinking Edinburgh and its partners have an opportunity to forge a new kind of city deal. Let’s seize it.

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian

Homeless can help to keep city streets clean

I was interested to read Cllr Dominic Heslop’s article in the Evening News (March 15), in particular with regard to his comparison of Edinburgh to Moscow and St Petersburg.

I have also made similar comparisons with regard to cleanliness when my family and I recently visited Copenhagen and Berlin. There is virtually no visible littering in these wonderful cities nor are there any ugly commercial rubbish bins.

Edinburgh is a beautiful city with the castle, palace, great swathes of open spaces, rivers, seascape, lochs, extinct volcano as well as our wonderful architecture, all of which justify our World Heritage Status.

Unfortunately all of this beauty is displayed within a backdrop of litter-strewn streets, overflowing ugly black bins sitting in prime positions, and the poor homeless people that Cllr Heslop refers to begging on the streets.

For whatever reason, they have fallen on hard times and surely we as a society need to address the situation.

Is it not possible that if our over-stretched council can’t clean the streets, we consider a sponsorship by local businesses where each of the homeless persons are given an opportunity, perhaps in the form of a contract, to keep clean a designated area and get paid from a business to do so?

The business could advertise on the barrow and the operator’s jackets and the homeless person would perhaps be able to regain some pride and get back into the workplace, get a roof over their heads and the streets would be kept clean.

This would make a start on helping the homeless, the streets would also be cleaner while advertising and promoting businesses. A little input from social services could assist in the start up of this scheme.

Our homeless population and our beautiful city deserve better. I hope that Cllr Heslop is successful in persuading his colleagues from all political parties to consider the plight of those poor people and take some positive action.

RW Tait, Marchmont, Edinburgh

Time to prioritise pothole repairs

I am absolutely amazed that Edinburgh still has such a huge amount of potholes all over the city.

Your columnist Helen Martin recently returned from Berlin and said it has none and that other cities are not nearly as bad as Edinburgh. Why do other cities not have the same problem?

Part of the answer is that when the ‘repairs’ are done they are just temporary or a cheap fix.

I myself saw an incident on Palmerston Place where a repair was filled in one day and the next day it had been destroyed by a heavy lorry and was worse than useless.

Surely it is not beyond Cllr Lesley Hinds to prioritise these repairs. It must cost the council a huge amount of money on claims for cars and taxis that have been damaged due to large potholes.

The maintenance of our roads has not kept pace with the constant battle against potholes. This needs to get sorted once and for all.

Cameron Buchanan MSP