Chancellor faces attempt by MPs to vote down budget

Philip Hammond will face attempts to vote down his budget at the first hurdle on Monday on the grounds that tax cuts for big banks must be stopped and all policies should be subject to a gender audit to show how it affects women.

Labour will object to the finance bill at second reading mainly on the grounds that cuts to the bank levy costing £4.7bn should be reversed to finance children’s services.

Separately, Labour’s Stella Creasy is leading a cross-party effort backed by more than 70 Labour, SNP, Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru and Green MPs, to force the chancellor to release data on how the budget policies affect women and men.

She has launched an online campaign, under the hashtag #LadyData, to encourage social media support for the move to “make the government do an independent gender impact assessment on their tax and benefit changes, with the women’s budget group showing how differently these policies affect women and ethnic minorities”.

The Labour frontbench and Creasy have tabled “reasoned amendments” to decline to give the finance bill a second reading, but only one will be picked for debate on Monday.

The Labour frontbench amendment rejects the finance bill for several reasons, including the continuing cuts to the bank levy and new measures to reduce the scope of the tax so that it applies to fewer banks.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said Hammond had made a political choice to carry on cutting the bank levy instead of ending the crisis in funding of children’s services.

“But the chancellor made his decision. The bank levy, introduced shortly after the global financial crisis, is to be cut further, continuing the giveaways made by his predecessor, George Osborne, that will see billions handed back to the major banks by 2020,” he said. “The banking surcharge, supposedly introduced to compensate the taxpayer for this loss, won’t come close to making good the difference.”

The Labour frontbench amendment also highlights warnings by the Institute for Fiscal Studies that the UK is facing two decades of lost pay growth, fears by experts that the stamp duty cut will push up house prices, the lack of an equalities impact assessment and failure to relieve the funding crisis in the NHS and social care.

Creasy’s amendment declines to give a second reading because it “gives effect to measures in a budget which has not been produced with the benefit of an independent gender impact assessment conducted by the Office for Budget Responsibility to enable the government to understand and address the consequences for the advancement of equality in Britain and in particular to women and ethnic minorities”.

A financial model developed by Yvette Cooper, the senior Labour backbencher, and House of Commons library statisticians found that 86% of savings to the Treasury from tax and benefit changes since 2010 had come from women.

An analysis by Labour has found that men received 46% more spending in Hammond’s autumn budget.

The government insists that the Treasury considered the equality impacts of individual policies on those with protected characteristics – including gender, race and disability – in line with its legal obligations and “its strong commitment to equality”.

At the time of the budget, a spokesman said: “We are fully committed to equality and carefully consider how those with protected characteristics are impacted by government policy. About 1.4 million more women are in work since 2010 and the full-time gender pay gap is at a record low. We publish comprehensive distributional analysis at every budget, which shows that the state continues to be highly redistributive.”

The author: Michel DEURINCK

Michel Deurinck, born in Brussels in 1950, started his career in the Belgian civil service, dedicating over 30 years to public service. Upon retirement, he pursued his passion for journalism. Transitioning into this new field, he quickly gained recognition for his insightful reporting on politics and culture. Deurinck's balanced and thoughtful approach to journalism has made him a respected figure in Belgian media.

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