Autumn Budget 2021: Never has a Chancellor asked people to pay so much for so little – Ian Murray MP

On Tuesday evening, a constituent who works at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary told me that A&E had a 40-hour wait and 80 patients waiting to be admitted.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 4:19 pm
Chancellor Rishi Sunak holds the budget box as he departs 11 Downing Street (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

This is a microcosm of what our A&Es and ambulance services are facing across Scotland, and the First Minister has been too obstinate to even admit that we’re engulfed in a crisis.

If there is no crisis, why have we seen the UK’s Armed Forces enlisted to support Scotland’s NHS?

With winter approaching, waiting times in our A&E wards are at their worst level since before the pandemic. In a week where 1,768 patients spent more than eight hours in an A&E department in Scotland, our Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, seems to be asleep at the wheel.

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The weekly statistics by Public Health Scotland are a damning indictment of this government’s abject neglect of our beloved health service and its incredible staff – at a time when A&E departments are already at breaking point.

But it’s not just A&E. Early detection rates for cancer are falling with 2020 figures showing the worst performance since targets were introduced.

As waiting times rocket, we should be pulling out every stop to get back on track, but instead health boards are being forced to cancel vital operations.

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For months now, frontline NHS workers have been raising the alarm but to no avail. Staff in our NHS are heroes and are doing the best they can, but they are exhausted and need to see considerable support to help ease the pressures. That’s why Scottish Labour produced an NHS catch-up plan last May that was dismissed by the First Minister.

This all comes at the same time as the UK budget. The 13th Tory budget since 2010 and it was the same old.

It showed just how out of touch the Chancellor is as he hit working people with the highest sustained tax burden in peacetime and, with COP26 starting in days, he gives a tax cut for short-haul flights and champagne.

All paid for by taking £6 billion out of the pockets of the poorest working people and expecting them to be grateful with £2 billion back. They won’t be buying the cheaper champagne to celebrate that’s for sure.

It won’t have passed many people by that the Chancellor kept referring to “the largest sum in a decade” with no irony that they’ve been in charge for that entire decade of austerity when they slashed the very spending he was increasing.

In the long story of this Parliament, never has a Chancellor asked people to pay so much for so little, loading the burden on working people with tax rises and wasting billions of pounds on skewed priorities.

Labour demanded a budget that put working people first, using the power of government and the skill of business to create the next generation of quality jobs and dealing with the cost-of-living crisis engulfing the country.

A recent survey suggested that more than half of families were worried about paying their bills and affording Christmas this year. There was no relief from those worries.

As always, the budget will unravel when the detail emerges as it’s always PR with little substance, a tactic the UK and Scottish governments execute very well.

Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South

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