Wednesday, 12 March 2008

* BUDGET: Brown not Green!


Caroline Lucas MEP has responded with disappointment to Alistair
Darling's first Budget, pointing especially to climb downs on the
planned 2p increase in fuel duty and the missed opportunity of a
windfall tax on energy company profits to tackle fuel poverty.

The Green Party's Principal speaker also expressed her doubt that the
government's target for reducing child poverty could be met without
much greater spending commitments, with the £3.4bn calculated to be
required gallingly matching the £3.3bn due to be spent on the Iraq and
Afghanistan occupations this year alone.

Dr Lucas said:

"This Budget isn't Green, it's Brown. After spinning extensively that
we were going to see the most environmental budget ever, the
government have given us more of the same.

"It tells you all you need to know about the government's attitude to
the environment that Darling chose the section on climate change to
reaffirm his commitment to expanding both Heathrow and Stansted
airports. He claims he wants tougher carbon reduction targets, but if
air travel expands in the way he wants, the only way to meet the cuts
we need would be to sacrifice every other part of our economy.

"Under pressure from roads lobbyists, he has backed down on the
already timid 2p rise in fuel duty, putting it back until autumn
apparently due to high oil prices. If he really thinks oil will be
cheap by October, his basic understanding of economics must surely be
in doubt. Fossil fuel costs will remain high as long as demand
remains high, and cowardly decisions like this will only make the
problem worse, not better.

"The £20 increase in child benefit is of course welcome, but it falls
well short of what is required to meet the government's laudable
targets for cutting child poverty. The £3.4bn that it would take to
halve child poverty by 2010 is instead being spent on occupying Iraq
and Afghanistan in 2008 alone. We need a real commitment to spending
on the things that matter, we need to insist that employers pay a real
living wage, and we need to end the assault course of benefit traps
and welfare blackmail that the government has set up on the border
between benefits and work."

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