Cabinet member for Finance responds to the Summer Budget

Councillor Mark Lowry, Cabinet member for Finance, said: “As expected this was a brutal budget that will hit families, young people and Plymouth’s most vulnerable residents hardest.

 “I’m particularly concerned about the ending of housing benefit for 18 to 21 year olds, which will affect more than 700 people in Plymouth.

 “If these young people can’t get housing benefits any longer who is going to house them if they can’t stay at home? There is a very real risk we will see a rise in the number of young people finding themselves homeless. Many are already vulnerable and will potentially end up on the streets and at huge risk. It is extremely short-sighted decision and one that is likely to ultimately cost the taxpayer more.

 “More than 100 families in Plymouth could potentially be hit by the cap on benefits, which could mean a total loss of £750,000 to the city’s economy.

 “And while the Chancellor’s adoption of the Labour pledge to increase in living wage is welcome we are concerned about the potential reduction in tax credits for working families.

 “The capping of public sector pay for four years will also have a negative impact on the city and limit economic growth if inflation rises. Twenty-three per cent of working people in Plymouth are employed in the public sector.

 “The scrapping of the maintenance grant for students is terrible news for the least well off families that rely on it. It could increase levels of debt in Plymouth and is likely to see a doubling of student debt for the poorer families. Already 16 per cent of problem debt in Plymouth is owed by struggling students.

 “There are many stupid and damaging announcements in the Chancellor’s speech and one of the worst is the reduction of social housing rents by one per cent. This is only going to exacerbate the housing problem in our city as it will impact on social landlords who are proposing to build more homes and prevent them from building urgently needed homes. This is only going to make the housing crisis worse as there’s nothing in the budget to help address the housing problems.”