The Budget: Students Overlooked?

Creepy McCreeperface, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, (real name George Osborne for those of you that haven’t been paying attention), announced his budget recently. Emily Boldry takes a look at what students can expect to gain or lose from his plans.

From 'The Prime Minister's Office'
From ‘The Prime Minister’s Office’

In a bid to deter smokers and irresponsible drinkers Osborne has continued to increase prices of tobacco and alcohol above inflation. A bottle of spirits has gone up by 38p, bottles of Wine by 10p and cider has gone up 2p a pint. A packet of 20 Cigarettes has gone up by 26p as have packets of rolling tobacco. However, George promised to help ‘responsible drinkers’ and pubs by decreasing tax on beer by 1p per pint. Yes that’s one whole penny off a pint! So, in theory, for every 190 pints of Tennents you drink at the QM, one will be paid for by the tax freeze. However, even what seems to be the most exciting part of the budget is actually a measure designed to help smaller pubs to make more money – so you won’t be seeing a cheaper pint, but it might help keep your local in business a while longer.

On a positive note, there has been a freeze in fuel duty so, if you own a car, petrol prices shouldn’t increase too much and the personal tax allowance was raised, meaning you can earn £10,000 before being taxed.

Unfortunately, there may be some difficulty in being able to earn anything at all. The number of young people aged 16-24 out of work rose by 48000 in the last quarter, so now 21.1% are unemployed. Osborne failed to mention this in his speech, aiming it instead at those who ‘aspire to work hard and get on’; so, for those who simply wish to ‘get on’, get drunk, have a good time and all that, this budget doesn’t promise much, but equally, if you wish to ‘aspire to work a hard and do well’ then it’s implicit that you might as well give up on those dreams.

Good news, however, if you happen to own a fracking company. Osborne announced generous tax-breaks for companies that want to explore and mine for shale gas. This process involves pumping sand, water and chemicals deep into the ground to open up fissures in rock so natural gas can be extracted. Osborne doesn’t seemed too concerned about the effect this might have on the environment with all that potential water pollution and other small side effects such as earth tremors but then would you be if it led to a source of super cheap fossil fuel?

Overall the economy isn’t doing so well. We barely escaped a triple dip recession, and growth is only half of what was predicted last year. Our national debt is still vast and the treasury are borrowing £61 Billion more over the next 6 years.  George Osborne said the government would stick to its strategy; one of cuts and austerity, despite the fact it is ‘taking longer than anyone hoped for’ to recover from the recession.

Not once were students or young people mentioned in his 2 hour long speech and it’s clear from this government’s agenda that our interests are being overlooked in favour of pathetic attempts to sway the general public and cover-up short-comings. We are ignored, broke and embittered; irresponsible drinking isn’t the half of it.

[Emily Boldry]

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