The Budget: Green or Brown ?
10th March 2008
With the Budget to be delivered in parliament by the Chancellor on Wednesday March 12th, the Green Party is calling for a genuinely Green approach, not a Brown one. According to the recommendations of the Stern report - an economic assessment on climate change produced for the Treasury - Gordon Brown should be ensuring that the UK invests 1% of GDP per annum on reducing carbon emissions - but its not happening.
Whilst the Labour Government under Gordon Brown has continued to make the right noises about tackling climate change the reality of its actions is very different. 2008 is set to be a crunch year for the UK on the issue of climate change. Government decisions are expected on a third runway at Heathrow, expansion of Stansted airport, urban growth proposals and major road schemes, many of which could impact on Eastern Region. If the go-ahead for these is rubber stamped by the Government, UK carbon dioxide emissions will continue to rise, more homes will be at flood risk and the quality of life of millions of people will be hit by increased traffic, air pollution and noise.
Transport is becoming a key political issue. Whilst there is clear demand for better public transport, fares remain far too high and overcrowding on key routes is becoming unbearable for thousands of people. The Green Party is calling for major road schemes designed to get even more cars and lorries on to the roads to be scrapped and for the money to be invested in public transport.
Whilst Labour claims it has improved local services, the reality for many is one of community hospitals closing, threats to village schools, loss of their local post offices and pubs and inadequate services in dentistry, mental health and many other sectors. And whilst big business enjoys ever more generous tax breaks and generates massive profits, many small businesses struggle due to regulation and taxation bearing down proportionately more heavily on them. Small businesses employ around half the workforce of the UK and the sector is growing - with around 5 million small businesses now registered.
Cllr. Dr Rupert Read, Green Party Lead candidate for the 2009 European Elections said
"On March 12th the Government has an opportunity to introduce a truly Green budget, as we would do if in power. Its high time Brown and Darling stopped pretending they are tackling the major issues that people care about and actually started work on them.
The expansion of Heathrow and Stansted should be scrapped, along with proposals to build and widen more motorways and trunk roads. Investment should instead be directed into a rapid improvement in public transport networks and safety on the roads, to give people good quality and sustainable choices about how they travel.
The damage being done to local public services must stop. The budget should include provision for much greater local autonomy on public services and financial support to ensure that vital services such as post offices, community hospitals and village schools do not decline further. Specific health services such as dentistry and mental health need urgent support to halt the decline in service delivery to people.
Investment in these areas would give a boost to people's quality of life and help reduce the incidence of long term illness.
Finally, if this is to be a genuinely Green budget, we hope the Chancellor can at last address the inequities in the taxation regime for the environment, sustainable building and small businesses. Taxes on pollution must increase, whilst taxes on sustainable activities are reduced. There is a clear justification for increasing taxes on aviation and a similar justification for cutting taxes on eco-friendly transport. There is an urgent need to help bring back into use the hundreds of thousands of empty and run down properties in the UK via changes to the tax system. Volume developers are currently financially encouraged to build on greenfield sites, often in flood risk areas. The Government should do much more to encourage locally based firms to improve existing housing and use appropriate brownfield sites which are often in more sustainable locations."
Eastern Region Green Party Press Office 01376 584576 mobile 07951 923073
Euro 2009 Lead Candidate Cllr. Dr. Rupert Read 01603 219294
mobile 07946 459066
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