Thursday, 9 March 2017

Reactions to Mr Hammond's First (and Last) Spring Budget 2017 from 4 Voters in Lincoln

Yesterday, we got to hear the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, set out the Government's spend and tax raising policies for the next few years. Billed as an "optimistic, upbeat" budget, there was certainly a lot of spin coming from the Government benches. The UK was the 2nd fastest-growing economy in the G7 in 2016 (although it may not feel like it for those who didn't manage to find a job last year) and the growth forecast for this year has been upgraded from 1.6% to 2%. The Chancellor proudly proclaimed that the Government was aiming to get 650,000 people into employment by 2021. However, the "optimistic" budget was filled with a note of caution; thanks to the uncertainty caused by the Brexit process and it's aftermath, the GDP figures have been downgraded to 1.6% in 2018, 1.7% in 2019 and 1.9% in 2020 with GDP growth figures returning to 2% by 2021. The rate of Inflation's expected to rise slightly to 2.4% in the next financial year (2017-18) before falling back to 2.3% in 2018-19 and 2.0% in 2019-20. Borrowing figures are expected to fall to £20.6 bn in 2020-21 despite the UK facing the consequences of leaving the EU and debt is expected to rise to 86.6% this year but Mr Hammond is confident it'll fall to 79.8% in 2020-21. Certainly a mixed picture for the UK economy.

A mixed picture for the UK economy was followed by a mix of budgetary policies, some rather more surprising than others. Most UK politicos knew that T-Levels were being introduced and that there might be an extra £1bn for Adult Social Care (it turned out to be £2bn) but very few could have predicted that the Government would ask for an increase in National Insurance Contributions (NICs) from the self-employed, breaking a key manifesto pledge from 2015, something they mocked the Lib Dems for doing on tuition fees, during the General Election campaign. So I wanted to see what a bunch of voters in my local ward, Birchwood in Lincoln thought of the key spending and tax increases proposed by Mr Hammond. My results and analysis follow below:

Location: Birchwood Ward, Lincoln, Lincolnshire.
Date: 05/10/2016.
Panel: No party members just "ordinary" voters:
Voter A:  Accounts Assistant, Female, 24, Labour voter.
Voter B: Unemployed Painter and Decorator, Male, 55, swing voter considering Conservatives (voted UKIP at GE 2015).
Voter C: Business owner, Male, 67, Conservative voter.
Voter D: Nurse (in care home), Female, 48,  swing voter considering Labour or WEP at next GE.

Results:

Budget Proposal
Voter A
Voter B
Voter C
Voter D
NIC rates for self employed (Class 4) to rise from 9% to 10% in April 2018 and 11% in April 2019.
Self-employed people do not enjoy the same employment rights as employees or workers, so I do not believe it's fair to increase taxation on them when there are no attempts to increase Corporation Tax or Capital Gains Tax.
I'd considered going self-employed this year but after the Government’s decision today, I'm worried that if I get over the £16,250 threshold it won't be worth it. Why do they want to punish those who are entrepreneurial?
I will end up paying more under this proposal but I think it's pretty fair. Maybe the Government will consider giving self-employed statutory rights to compensate, like maternity pay or Annual Leave? I doubt it.
As an employee I'm not affected by these changes but my husband might be as he's self-employed. It just doesn't seem fair. I thought the Tories weren't going to raise NI rates or VAT or Income Tax whilst in Government? I think they've made a lot of people angry.
Shareholder dividend rate tax-free allowance reduced from £5,000 to £2,000 from April 2018.
I think this will hit SMEs and investors hard but it'll raise much needed capital for the Treasury to pay for the NHS and Social Care if the forecast figures of £2.6bn by 2021-22 are to be believed.
  
This policy is bad for investors and bad for SME business owners. It's a tax on aspiration. Why can't they raise Corporation Tax instead?
I will be effected by this policy decision but I guess I should pay my fair share of tax, especially if it helps to fund the NHS and Social Care.
I'm not sure if my husband will be affected by this policy but I think we need to raise taxes on companies as well as reducing tax-free allowances. Raise Corporation Tax!
  
Investment Guaranteed Growth Bonds, paying an interest of 2.2% will be available from April 2017.
This policy will be attractive to some pensioners and investors who want to see an increased Return on Investment.
I can't afford to save £10 a month let alone think about bonds and shares. Whole different world.
I may think about getting some Investment Guaranteed Growth Bonds; the interest rate looks attractive and the money can go towards paying for my child's university fees.
Saving isn't an option for most on the NLW. It's OK offering bonds and schemes but it's going to benefit only those earning enough to put money aside each month. Not many people I know can do that.
Minimum Excise Duty placed on cigarettes meaning pack of cigs will cost an extra 32p from Wednesday and hand rolled tobacco pack will cost an extra 42p.
I don't smoke so I'm not affected personally by new Excise Duty. I do think that the Government sees smokers as an easy target for indirect taxation.
I think this is appalling...my benefits don't go far enough as is and I like to have a roll up or two during the day. Government's using personal choice to demonise and penalise smokers. Hope UKIP would freeze this duty in the future.
I have smoked since I was 16 and this Excise Duty will not stop me from enjoying my cigarettes in the future. I guess I can absorb the cost easier than those on the National Living Wage can.
Any Government interested in improving Public Health wants to get people to stop doing harmful things to themselves like smoking. That being said, the money generated by the new Duty should go towards helping fund public health preventative campaigns and organisations.
Personal Tax Free Allowance will rise to £11,500 as planned.
Good news that the Chancellor has decided to keep the Government's promise on the Personal Tax Allowance. Those earning just above the NLW will have more disposable income but it might end up being used to pay for increases in the cost of food and energy supplies.
When I find a position I'll be happy to know that I'll be able to keep more of the money I earn.
My employees will be glad that their tax allowance thresholds have risen.; the NLW rise from £7.20 to £7.50 will help them adjust to any increases in the cost of living brought about by the Brexit process. Maybe they'll be more productive?
I'm glad to see that I'll remain not paying Income Tax this year as I'm only working part-time but I do think it's time for a bigger increase in the NLW or to increase wages in the social care sector. £7.50 isn't really very good for all the hard physical graft that you end up doing.
£435m for firms affected by increase in business rates with a £300 million hardship fund for those worst affected (in London and South East).
Businesses should pay their fair amount of taxes, including business rates. The fund will probably only help those with large numbers of premises in London and the South East. What could be more frustrating for some SMEs is that the Government has also capped rate rises for those businesses losing rate relief at £50 a month so any benefit from the removal of the rate relief may be marginal in some council areas.
I think it's a disgrace that the Government is going to compensate large companies just because they moan they are having trouble paying the rate increase if they are located down South. This measure will do nothing for small businesses in Lincoln.
I understand the Government's decision to compensate firms who will be hit by a large increase in business rates; the extra money will help keep cash-flows healthy so they can keep purchasing goods and keep the Payroll going. However I don't know of anyone who will benefit in Lincoln from this measure.
I'd rather have seen the money allocated to schools or to help fund youth projects and initiatives than to go to businesses. It's strange that the Government are more than willing to give money to the corporate firms but not help upgrade comprehensive school buildings or increase per pupil funding.
Fuel duty frozen for another year.
SMEs who rely on their cars to get to customers/clients definitely welcome another Fuel Duty freeze. I wonder if it'll be sustainable post-Brexit though.
I don't drive a car so this policy doesn't affect me. Think my friends will be happy though.
It's sensible of the Government to keep the Fuel Duty frozen, especially during our Brexit negotiations.
I don't drive but my husband is glad he doesn't have to factor in a Fuel Duty rise into our household budget.
£820m tax avoidance clampdown on businesses.
Everyone should be pleased that the Government is getting tougher on businesses trying to wriggle out of tax through avoidance schemes. The Chancellor mentioned it'll be tougher for businesses to covert capital losses into trading losses and there will be UK VAT on mobile roaming services outside the EU.
Will we ever see any extra money come in as a result of these changes? So many businessmen try and get away with paying as little tax as possible and all I want to do is get a job so I can pay my fair share of tax and support my family. Will we all be taxed on using roaming services when we are calling from Turkey?
I've never used any tax avoidance schemes and I understand the Government's decision to introduce UK vat on mobile roaming services provided outside the EU. We all have to call in when on business so it'll probably raise a fair bit for the Treasury, if I'm understanding the policy correctly.
Tax avoidance schemes should be scrapped altogether and I think the tax system really needs to be simplified to get rid of loopholes. I hope the roaming data charge VAT won't apply to consumers...I'll have to check with my provider to see how much extra that'll cost me and my family when we go abroad this year.
£300m to support 1,000 new PhD places and fellowship in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects.
We need to get more women into high-profile STEM research positions so I'd like to see a quota which would guarantee at least 500 places going to women.
I'm not going to benefit from this policy; are they going to hire students from the UK to fill these positions or will most come from the EU as usual? God knows.
I like this policy and am pleased to see the Government proactively investing in the UK's research and development future. I read the Industrial Strategy so I knew there were plans for investment in research places. I hope my son will be able to get a PhD place; he wants to be a Robotics Engineer.
Like Voter A, I want to see a gender quota introduced of 50% on these new PhD and fellowship positions. We need more female coders, robotics engineers, genetic scientists to help the world to progress. I'm proud to be using my own STEM skills in nursing and I'd like the Government to restore nurse training bursaries because not every person can apply to do a PhD but they may have skills needed to care for our ageing population.
Free school transport (buses) for those on free school meals who attend grammars/selective schools.
This is a fair policy decision; parents who are struggling to scrape the money together to afford transport for their children will be relieved.
It's common sense really. Kids who have worked hard to get selected to a grammar school shouldn't be stopped from attending the school because of their parents' circumstances.
Absolutely right for the Government to bring in this policy. Your own circumstances should not prevent you from getting a decent education.
I think this policy would have been introduced by a Labour Government anyways so I don't give the Tories any extra brownie points.
£320m for funding grammar and 110 new free schools.
I was educated in a comprehensive school and I believe that the money should be spent on funding existing schools and making them fit-for purpose. If extra places are needed, build more state schools and don't prop up free schools or force existing schools into becoming academies. The Government should focus less on school type and more on quality of teachers and teaching overall.
I'd have been glad to go to a grammar school if there had been one in Lincoln. Free schools may help to develop specialist skills needed to stop kids from ending up on the dole. All schools should focus less on Drama and more on the basics like English and Maths. If I'd learned to read and do maths properly, I could have ended up in an office or had my own business.
School choice is a vital part of our democratic system; grammars need the funding to increase capacity to take in more bright students who can get the qualifications they need to become doctors and lawyers. If a parent wants to help establish a free school with other parents, they should be able to do so if they think the quality of education in the area can be improved.
I don't see why we we need to fund grammar schools and set up new schools and have comprehensives turned into academies...it all seems very unnecessary to me. I believe every child has the right to a decent standard of basic education and comprehensive schools can offer specialist training if they can attract the teaching talent and get the funding they need to achieve a satisfactory standard. I've never believed in selection or public and private schools and never will.
T-Levels introduced to give technical education same level of recognition as academic education.
T-Levels when taken alongside A-Levels could boost a student's chances of gaining a well paid job in the future within certain professional fields but the policy needs fleshing out. Will Accountancy, for example, turn from an A-Level to a T-Level or will it just be subjects like Engineering and Hairdressing? It seems the Government is using the T-Level structure to abolish 1000s of other qualifications...does that mean that mature students can't take T-Levels if the equivalent course is scrapped? Mature students can do A-Levels. Confusing.
I wasn't a brainbox at school and I'd have jumped at the chance of taking a T-Level in something like Construction. It'd have set me up for life. I'd be proud if my kids decide to do T-Levels after their GCSEs.
I know that T-Levels are only going to involve certain professional skills, like Hairdressing or Construction so there will still be students wanting to become lawyers or doctors who will have to take traditional academic A-Levels. Those who are less academic will have more of a chance when they finish sixth form/college, though.
I read that T-Levels are more likely to be taught in Further Education Colleges, meaning that if a student wants to study an A-Level or AS Level alongside a T-Level, they'll have to leave their school at 16 even if they are happy and settled at that school. It may be fine for those who want to be hairdressers or work in construction or plumbing but it won't help train nurses.
£100m to place more GP s in A&Es next winter.
I was seen by a GP weekend service at Lincoln County Hospital's A&E and I thought the GP was very friendly and knowledgeable and it saved me waiting for hours at the A&E waiting to be seen by an emergency doctor. Is £100m really enough?
I don't really want to go traipsing up to the Hospital just to see a GP in the evening or on a Saturday in the middle of winter. I want Birchwood Medical Practice open 24/7 and fully staffed!
£100m is going to help ease the situation in A&Es in the winter. Those who have minor aliments, sprains, pains etc can be seen by GP s and they are all friendly and professional. The overnight and weekend service seems to work well in Lincoln, anyways!
I'm not convinced that £100m for GPs is going to be enough to ease A&E pressures. We need more A&E doctors, nurses and we need more hospital capacity. I'm sick and tired of seeing clients from my home having to wait 4 hours on a trolley just to be seen by a doctor.
£325m to allow NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) to proceed.
I've glanced at the ULHT STP and it looks like they want to centralise services like the A&E for pretty much all of Lincolnshire at Lincoln County Hospital. That'll only increase waiting times and reduce bed capacity. Wrong decision.
The NHS needs to save money and become more efficient and if these STPs or whatever they're called help to do this, I haven't got a problem with it. I don't know why people in Grantham are really kicking up a fuss. They can drive?
I don't know much about the STP; I guess I'll have to try and find it online. I do think that Grantham A&E should be reopened as a 24/7 service and that it's better to treat people locally than expect them to travel an hour to get emergency treatment in Lincoln.
The STPs are designed to reduce capacity and staffing levels in hospitals and to centralise emergency care services. I think it's a disgrace that the Government believes it's appropriate to say to an elderly person: “drive an hour to get to A&E and then wait more than 2 hours to get emergency treatment”. Ambulance services are already overstretched as it is. Re-open Grantham A&E 24/7 and make sure that NHS services are fully staffed and give them a pay rise!
£2bn for Adult Social Care over the next 3 years with £1bn in the 4th year.
£2bn is “a drop in the ocean”as Jeremy Corbyn stated. The Kings Fund says that we need £2bn a year just to plug gaps in adult social care and what about child social care; families need to have qualified professionals to help them look after severely disabled children. Where's the funding for them?
The Government were told they needed to fund social care and they've provided some funding on top of what we all pay in council tax. Where's the problem? Maybe people should just save up more for care in their old age and then this wouldn’t be such a huge issue.
Social care service providers should be pleased to see there will be funding available to help pay for their services. I think we need to start taking responsibility as a country and save more so that we can ensure we can be looked after in our old age. All about personal responsibility.
This announcement just isn't enough to help pay for adult social care. Councils are struggling to pay for the cost of private care for those clients who cannot pay for themselves and everyone deserves the right to a decent standard of care in their old age. Don't penalise someone because they didn't have a job that paid enough for their care.
Most sugary drinks taxed at 24p per litre to fight childhood obesity.
I don't think taxing sugary drinks will help fight child obesity; some parents will still buy them a sugary drink a few times a week regardless of the tax. There's nothing wrong with having a Pepsi Max bottle twice a week.
Tax on the poor again. I don't know why the Government can't just let people make their own decisions and stop taxing everything they think is “unhealthy”.
It's the Government's choice to decide which measures are most effective in improving Public Health. I only have a Coke occasionally these days and I'll just pay the extra few pence.
You don't fight childhood obesity by taxing drinks that everyone consumes. Better to invest in education measures than taxation ones. Hope Labour may reconsider the Sugar Tax in a future manifesto.
£690m competition fund to tackle urban congestion.
It looks like Lincoln would have to bid to be in with a chance of getting any of this funding. Seems unlikely we'll see any of it.
Why can't the Government just allocate a few million to each council rather than make them bid for funding?
It'd be good to see Karl McCartney (MP for Lincoln) and City of Lincoln Council bid for this funding. The High Street can get very congested at times and the increase in freight trains isn't helping the situation.
Most of this funding is more likely to go to conurbations like Stoke-On-Trent or Leeds than coming to Lincoln. Allocation of funds would be better than having a bidding process.
£270m for “new technologies” such as robots and driverless cars.
I believe that such projects should be investor-funded, not funded by the Government. I'm not a technophobe but I believe the money is needed as part of the NHS or Education budget.
Waste of money...chucking it down the drain like no tomorrow. Why can't Richard Branson or Lord Alan Sugar invest in such businesses? The Government can't invest in everything.
I'm all for investment in new technologies; the UK could become the global leader in robotics engineering. Let's be innovators not NIMBYs.
The Government can find £270m for this but won't give NHS nurses a pay rise or set up an Arts Fund in primary schools that would benefit far more voters than these schemes put together. Shameful.
£16m more for 5G upgrades and £200m for local broadband networks.
It would be great for local businesses to have access to 5G mobile networks and fast broadband. Glad th e Government is keeping their promise.
It'd be cool to get internet access “out in the sticks” but is it really that important?
I'm glad the Government is honouring their commitment to providing fast fibre-optic broadband and 5G mobile services. My friends who have businesses in places like Skellingthorpe rely on fast reliable broadband to process orders and keep in touch with customers.
I've never really noticed the broadband speeds or mobile network coverage...I guess it doesn't bother me that much but if others are desperate for better connectivity then it's important for them. I'm ambivalent on this policy.
£20m for campaign against violence against women and girls.
The Government should be doing everything they can to reduce instances of sexual violence and domestic violence and abuse (DVA) against women and girls. If the fund is going to help keep survivor shelters open or go towards training for police officers and NHS professionals, then that's all good but why they couldn't put £270m into this instead of just £20m is beyond me.
Where's the funding for male domestic abuse and violence victims? I think they get ignored by this Government. I'm with Philip Davies...it's just not good enough.
I agree with the Government's decision to provide £20m to this campaign; after all they signed up to the Istanbul Convention and helped pass the bill. Not sure yet what the money will be used for but I hope similar funding will be available for male survivors of domestic abuse and violence and sexual abuse.
Why the Government have not done this before escapes me. DVA charities have asked for funding to allow them to continue to offer services to vulnerable women and girls but they've only just decided to offer a tiny amount of funding now. Labour MPs always support DVA services but I've not seen many Conservative male MPs talk about funding for male survivors. Why do they only matter now to them?
£5m to celebrate the centenary of the first women gaining right to vote and to educate students about the Suffragette movement.
Everyone should be thankful that women who are British citizens now have the right to vote. We should celebrate the Suffragette movement and make sure that every student knows the importance of going out to vote. There was money to commemorate male soldiers during WW1 so why not Suffragettes who also helped in the war effort by working in municipal factories and nursing the wounded?
£5m to celebrate women getting the vote? Why? We already know they can vote! I'm not a sexist but does the Government really need to pay £5m to educate students about women gaining the right to vote?
I think it's fine to invest £5m in commemoration events; next year will mark 100 years since women first gained the right to vote after all. I hope there will be an event in Lincoln as part of the nationwide celebrations and I look forward to attending it.
It's only right and proper to honour those women who fought to gain the right to vote. Every student should know about the Pankhursts but what about Emily Davison, who was thrown under the King's horse at the Epsom Derby in June 1913 after trying to raise attention to the Suffragist cause? There's a lot for students to learn and any extra resources that can be created to bring the story of the Suffragette Movement to life will be welcome.
£5m to support women returning to work after their career break.
Mothers and women who acted as carers for family members do need help to ensure they find a position that suits their experience and skills. Employers need to be more willing to employ older women returning to work too.
Why is there extra funding for women who have been out of work due to pregnancy/motherhood? Where's the help for working class youngsters who can't get on the career ladder in the first place?
I'm fine with the Government giving funding to organisations to help support women wanting to go back into the workplace after a long absence. Employers would value their skills and be prepared to fund the training updates needed to carry out their previous job role effectively.
I do wonder which women will be helped by the fund; will it be nurses, retail assistants and admin assistants or just management in banks or lawyers and doctors. Will the fund help women who have been carers in Lincolnshire? A lot more detail is needed.
Best Policy
£20m for campaign against violence against women and girls.
T-Levels for kids.
£2bn for Adult Social Care.
£20m for campaign against violence against women and girls.
Worst Policy
NIC rates rise for some self-employed people.
£270m for “driverless cars”..why?
NIC rates rise for some self-employed people.
£2bn for Adult Social Care because it doesn't go far enough.
How will you vote at the next GE?
Labour because Jeremy Corbyn is an inspirational figure and is trying to hold the Tories to account.
I'll vote UKIP because I disagree with giving more money to corporate firms & vanity projects.
Definitely Conservative; I'm proud of what PM May is doing and happy with her Brexit approach.
Labour if Jeremy Corbyn steps down as leader; otherwise WEP or Lib Dems. I'll weigh up my options.


Analysis:

At first glance, it would appear that the Government's policies received a fairly mixed reaction with this group of voters in Lincoln. Voter C, who usually votes for the Conservative party was much more positive about key signature policies than Voters A and D, who generally vote for Labour (Birchwood is usually a Labour ward with 2 Labour city councillors Roseanne Kirk and Paul Gowen and one Conservative city councillor, Eddie Strengiel). Voter B, a UKIP voter considering voting for the Conservatives at the next election was the one who expressed most dissent with the policies proposed in the Budget. This may be down to his current socio-economic status but it was clear that he was disappointed with the allocation of funds to “vanity projects” like robotics and driverless cars and questioned the validity of spending £5m on commemorating the centenary of British women gaining the right to vote. Labour leaning Voters A&D entirely disagreed with Voter B on his view and praised the Government for ringfencing the Suffragette fund, with Voter D arguing that it can be used to create resources which can help educate students about the importance of voting in future elections as well as telling the important story of suffragettes like Emily Davison and the Pankhursts.

However, Voters A&D were critical of a number of Budget policies, citing lack of detail. For example, Voter A wondered which 15 subjects were going to be taught as T-Levels and whether mature students would be able to study them at college, as they can do currently with A-Levels. Voter D was critical of the funding allocated towards STPs, mentioning that centralising key emergency services at Lincoln County Hospital may lead to increased waiting time, more stressed emergency nurses and doctors and put an extra travelling burden on elderly people who should not be made to travel for 40 minutes to get treatment for a sprained ankle or burned hand. Ambulance services are already under pressure and do not have the vehicles or the personnel to respond to an increase in cases that may result from any closure of Grantham A&E after the ULHT STP has been implemented. Interestingly, Lincolnshire Conservative councillors and local MP Karl McCartney agree that the STP needs to be improved and a rethink on centralisation of key services needs to take place before it has any hope of being approved.

Local issues do come into play when Budget details are announced and Voters A, B and D are fairly sceptical of how certain policies may help improve the lives of constituents in Lincoln. The urban congestion fund needs to be bid for and Voter D thought that “most of this funding is more likely to go to conurbations like Stoke-On-Trent and Leeds than to Lincoln”. Voter A pointed out that rates relief wouldn't really affect many businesses in Lincoln and even voter C admitted he didn't know anyone who would benefit directly from the £300m rate hardship fund. Voter B believed the hardship fund was just rewarding corporate firms and he thought it was a disgrace that money can be found to ease the woes of the wealthy when National Insurance contributions (NICs) have been increased on the self-employed. Ah that particular policy went down like a hot lead balloon with this voting panel with Voters A and D very keen to point out that self-employed people do not enjoy the same employment rights as employees and that's why they shouldn't be forced to pay increased rates if they happen to have a “good year” and earn more than £16,250 in profits. It can be seen as a tax on aspiration but more importantly, it's making families nervous and wondering how much they need to save from their budgets to pay for the increase in NICs. The Government did promise that they wouldn't raise NICs, VATs or Income Tax in their manifesto of 2015 so no wonder voters are confused by the U-turn. That being said, Voter C said he was happy to pay the increase and it's not clear yet whether he's in the minority or whether self-employed businessmen will just absorb the costs and wait for changes in employment law for the self-employed that may come after the Brexit process has been completed.

With regards to education policy more generally, it seems that the voters in this group were split down traditional party lines. Voters A and D are opposed to grammar school expansions and do not understand why the Government is focusing on diversifying school types rather than increasing “per pupil funding” for all schools in England. Is school choice really that important? Does increasing free school places help improve educational standards for disabled working class children? Will there be many changes in Lincoln...there are no grammar schools in Lincoln itself and the only free-school that I myself am aware of is the Acorn Free School which opened in September 2013 helping students who may not thrive in a “conventional school environment”? T-Levels as mentioned above were broadly welcomed but as Voter D pointed out, it seems that only Further Education colleges will be the ones who provide the T-Levels and we still don't know whether A-Levels can be taken alongside them. Funding for 1,000 PhD and fellowship places in STEM subjects is welcome but again, Voters A&D wanted to see more detail on the proposal, asking whether a gender quota of 50% should be placed to ensure that women are given equal opportunity to gain a fellowship or PhD funded place as men. I agree with them!


Some policies, like the Fuel Duty freeze and Personal Tax Allowance increase are universally welcome and were expected to happen. The key policy announcement on adult Social Care, the one that most voters were waiting for was just not enough for Labour voters to get excited about. That coupled with the NIC changes and lack of clarity over policies such as that focusing on STEM PhD and fellowship questions means that there really was no movement in voting intentions from Labour and Conservative voters. Yet with UKIP voters thinking of switching to the Conservatives, the Budget just didn't hit the mark. It entrenched the view that the Conservatives care more about those who have savings than those who cannot afford to save. It focussed on helping big businesses hit by the business rate relief scrap but decided to hurt self-employed businessmen. There was no extra money for the NHS other than that £100m for GPs being placed in A&Es and getting the STPs rolling. However, the Budget did impress Voter B with its announcement for T-Levels and funding for free schools but clearly impressive educational policies aren't enough to get him to commit to voting for the Conservatives at the next General Election. I imagine it'll come down to that all important deal sourced by David Davis in Brussels as to whether UKIP voters like Voter B will be willing to trust the Government with the future direction of the country. That's an interesting finding in itself.