17:19 Wednesday 8th July 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
CHRIS MANN: Let’s get reaction to what the Chancellor had to say in that Emergency Budget from a couple of people. We’ve got Lucy Frazer the Conservative MP for South East Cambridgeshire. Lucy hello.
LUCY FRAZER: Hello. Hi. Hi Chris.
CHRIS MANN: And also the Labour MP for Cambridge Daniel Zeichner. Hello Daniel.
DANIEL ZEICHNER: Hi Chris.
CHRIS MANN: First Budget as MPs for both of them of course. Daniel, your reaction.
DANIEL ZEICHNER: Well it was exciting to be in the Chamber, but I have to say I think it was very hard news for quite a few people, particularly in a city like Cambridge. I think people on working tax credits, it’s going to be hard for them. We’ve discovered about 8,000 students in Cambridge will be losing, the next generation will be losing their maintenance grants. And of course for people working in schools and hospitals they’re confronted with what looks to me like a 10% real terms cut in their income over the next few years. So for a lot of people this is really hard.
CHRIS MANN: Was there good news for people Lucy Frazer?
LUCY FRAZER: Well I thought it was a great Budget. It was a Budget about security, financial security, a country living within our means, cutting the deficit. And what we’ve seen is that countries that don’t control their borrowing like Greece will let the borrowing control them. The people who suffer most are the poorest in society, so we need to live within our means, and that’s what we did. And it was also a Budget about national security. I was really pleased to see a commitment to 2% of our income going in defence. But it was also a Budget about rewarding work and working people. We’ve cut taxes. We’ve increased the threshold at which you start to pay tax to £11,000. We’ve cut the rate at which the 40p rate kicks in . And we’ve of course introduced the new Living Wage, £7.20 an hour, raising to £9 by 2020.
CHRIS MANN: Let me ask Daniel about that, because Daniel you’ve made the Living Wage a real part of your campaign over the last few years, and hey, the Government has listened to you. The conservatives have listened to you and stolen your thunder.
DANIEL ZEICHNER: Well they’ve actually introduced what was in Labour’s manifesto, so to that extent I’m pleased, but they’ve misunderstood what the LivinG Wage is about. What this is actually is a rebadged Minimum Wage, and I welcome the fact that it’s going to go up, but actually there is no difference between this and what Labour would have done. The LivinG wage is actually at a higher level, which takes into account what it really costs, what people really need to live on. So that campaign will continue, because particularly in high cost areas like Cambridge, and with people losing their tax credits, it’s going to be really hard. Some people are going to be thousands of pounds a year worse off, and in a high cost area like ours, that’s going to cause a whole range of problems.
CHRIS MANN: Lucy Frazer, answer the criticisms please about students and this artificial cap on numbers. And also the fact that the rental properties in Cambridge are another big issue locally here. What’s going to happen with that?
LUCY FRAZER: Well the position in relation to the grants is that people have said that if we increase the loans that students take out that will it the poorest in society. The poorest in society won’t go to university. And that hasn’t been the case. So what has been introduced is the possibility of borrowing more with the reduction of the grant. And that won’t have to be paid back immediately.
CHRIS MANN: Now devolution was a big word that’s been bandied about. This ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is to get extra powers, but nothing so far for East Anglia or for Cambridgeshire. Were you disappointed in that one Lucy?
LUCY FRAZER: Well we’ve already got the City Deal which is great, because that is a form of giving power back to the people. And it’s very interesting, I was speaking to a minister yesterday in fact who said that some of that money could be spent towards my region to help the city grow. So I think we’ve already got the City Deal. So I’m pleased that we’ve got a Norther Powerhouse. I’m pleased that there was a mention of a Midlands economic region. I think we need to rebalance the economy generally. But I think the fact that there wasn’t a specific mention of Cambridgeshire doesn’t mean that there isn’t investment in Cambridgeshire already on foot.
CHRIS MANN: Daniel Zeicher?
DANIEL ZEICHNER: Well let’s go back on the previous point. The problem with taking away the maintenance grants for students is that these are the poorest students, and there’s something like 8,000 across Anglia Ruskin and Cambridge University. So I think you’ll find there will be a big reaction, and it will become a big issue. On the City Deal issue, the problem basically is that the City Deal we’ve got was a watered down version in the first place. And what’s on offer to various parts of the country is very very vague. And it’s not going to be nearly big enough as far as I can see to tackle the really big challenges we’ve got on both transport and housing.
CHRIS MANN: he’s also announcing that councils in England and Wales will be allowed themselves to make a decision on relaxing Sunday trading laws. Where do you stand on that Daniel?
DANIEL ZEICHNER: I think it’s a real threat to some of our independent shops that actually at the moment are relatively protected. They can open on Sundays. It protects them against the big multiples. I think what’s happened is there’s been pressure from the very big companies, and it will just mean that their staff have to work longer. It doesn’t actually create more business, it just means that people spread their purchases over a longer period of time. So I’m not thrilled about it. I wouldn’t have thought people in Cambridge will particularly go for this.
CHRIS MANN: And of course the elephant in the room Lucy Frazer is the internet anyway.
LUCY FRAZER: Yes absolutely. What the internet shows is more and more people are making purchases generally not on the high street, but also on Sundays, and that was one of the reasons why it was brought in. But what this decision is about is about local people making local decisions. So it will be up to the local area to decide whether they w ant Sunday trading or not.
CHRIS MANN: What about the announcement that he will abolish non-domicile status. That of course allows UK residents to limit the tax paid on their earnings outside of the country. Again stealing your thunder Daniel Zeichner?
DANIEL ZEICHNER: Well it was curious, wasn’t it, because there were a number of items in the Budget which were taken pretty much from the Labour manifesto. So obviously on those things we think he got it right. But on the other things like the cut to tax credits, I think it was cruel.
CHRIS MANN: And Lucy Frazer, you know traditionally at the start of a Government they get tough. How would you describe this one overall?
LUCY FRAZER: I think this is an excellent Budget. I think it’s a Budget which is about fairness, is about rewarding working people for working, and making sure that those people who do work are paid fairly for working, whilst at the same time protecting those who cannot work, the most vulnerable in society. So we’re not means testing disability benefits. We’ve still got the triple lock on pensions. So I think it was an excellent Budget overall.
CHRIS MANN: And if it had been your friend Ed Balls there today Daniel Zeichner, how different would it have been?
DANIEL ZEICHNER: It would have been a very different Budget. It would have been a Labour Budget, and the first thing we’d have done would have been to get rid of the iniquitous bedroom tax. So there are going to be many people in Cambridge today who are going to be looking at the next few years ahead and life doesn’t look great for them.
CHRIS MANN: Thank you both for joining me with your reaction to the Budget, their first Budget as MPs. You heard there from Daniel Zeichner, who was elected MP for Cambridge, for the Labour Party at the last election. And Lucy Frazer, the new Conservative MP for South East Cambridgeshire.