BUSINESS, politics and health experts from the University of Salford comment on the budget announced by the Chancellor Philip Hammond.
Dr Nazam Dzolkarnaini, accounting and finance expert at the University of Salford Business School:
“There were three key messages from the UK budget speech today by Chancellor Philip Hammond. First, the budget remains in deficit but that deficit is declining. It is obvious that the costs of debt are the main contributor to such deficit. UK debt remains excessively high although there is a commitment to lower it.
“Second, the sharp cut in growth forecasts is a worrying sign on top of the deficit budget. As the UK is on the brink of Brexit, unfavourable growth forecasts suggest the UK economy is not in the best shape to leave the EU.
“Third, on a more positive note, housing boost of £44bn and scrapping stamp-duty on the first £300,000 for first-time buyers will revive the UK property market. Coupled with 100% council tax premium on empty properties, these will promote better housing especially for the people who need it most.
“So, does the UK look ready to face Brexit? Does UK have strengthen its economics base before exiting the EU? Much remains to be done and the future remains bleak.”
Ghulam Sorwar, Professor of Finance in the University of Salford Business School:
“There is nothing unusual or radical about the budget. Chancellor Phillip Hammond has played it very safe and that means he is likely to be in his job for the foreseeable future, despite some rumours that his position was under threat.
“There has been no great give-aways this year. In short it is a boring budget. His main constraint has been growth and the low growth projections in the coming years. The Chancellor has tried to tackle the housing crisis, through stamp duty reductions and buildings programmes. It remains to be seen how successful this will be in years to come.
“This is budget is definitely much more conservative than his earlier budget. He has for example not gone after pensions or National Insurance contributions.”
Dr Ben Williams, Lecturer in Politics and Political Theory at the University of Salford:
“Much of the debate relating to this Budget centres on the concept of ‘austerity’, and to what degree it will remain in place for the foreseeable future. The ‘austerity agenda’ has been a key plank of government economic and social policy since 2010, with notably mixed successes.
“The outcome of this year’s general election, where the Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority, offered a clear message that the public appear to be tiring of this ongoing narrative of relentless spending cutbacks with no apparent end. This 'austerity fatigue' as some have called it, has been further exacerbated by weakening economic growth, which Chancellor Hammond confirmed in his headline Budget figures.
“Hammond is said to be trying to regain some of the youth vote, which so significantly swung against the Conservatives in this year’s general election. The proposal to extend reduced rail fares for those up to 30 could mark the first step in recovering some of the lost support among younger voters, although the Labour opposition has dismissed this as a limited gesture amidst rising university tuition fees.
“Overshadowing all of this however, is the ongoing Brexit saga, with negotiations stalling and ongoing uncertainty about the level of financial settlement that Britain is likely to pay towards the eventual ‘divorce’.
“While some have argued that in the longer-term Brexit will improve the UK’s financial position, at the moment it certainly appears to significantly restricted the government’s capacity to manage and invest public funds the way that it wants to. While the Budget's cut in stamp duty, enhanced infrastructure funding, and increased NHS spending can be viewed as a slight revision of austerity politics, broader caution appears to have prevailed for reasons both practical and political. On this basis, public spending appears likely to remain relatively controlled going forward under this administration, despite radically different demands from Labour.”
Brian Boag, Associate Dean of the University of Salford’s School of Health and Society, said:
“While welcoming any investment in the NHS, we’re disappointed that no money has been set aside for the ongoing education of nurses, while the pushing back of any pay rise until next year further harms the attractiveness of nursing as a profession.
“At the University of Salford we’re committed to working with local trusts to continue to provide the best possible nurses for the people of Greater Manchester.”