“Short shrift”: Isles MP responds to Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

22 Nov 2023

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has responded to today’s Autumn Statement from the Chancellor, warning that the Conservatives will get “short shrift” from people who still feel the impact of the “kamikaze budget” of last year. Mr Carmichael welcomed a freeze on spirits duty and uplift for pensions and benefits payments but voiced concern about ongoing high inflation and the lack of further support on energy bills.

Liberal Democrat analysis of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts today showed that the freezing of income tax and National Insurance thresholds is due to raise £201bn between now and 2028-29. The figures also show 7.4 million people are set to be dragged into a higher rate of tax over the next six years. 4 million people are set to be brought into paying income tax for the first time by 2028-29, while 3 million will be dragged into paying the higher 40p rate.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a targeted package focused on those who need the most help, doubling the Warm Home Discount and extending its eligibility to everyone on UC – taking £300 a year off the heating bills of around 7.5 million vulnerable and low income households – and a new ten year home insulation scheme, to cut bills for the long term.

Mr Carmichael said:

“The Conservatives trashed the economy and now they want credit for picking a few pieces back up. I suspect that they will get short shrift from most people still feeling the burn from the “kamikaze budget” of last year. Far from an “Autumn Statement for growth” forecasts for growth are significantly down from March.

“There are some bright spots in the freezing of duty on whisky – albeit after a 10.1% rise earlier this year – and an uplift for pensions and benefits. Even so the meagre fiscal changes made will do little to bridge the gap made by past and continued high inflation, particularly on food.

“The lack of a proper plan for energy support is concerning – we have to hope that bills will not rocket up in the way they did last year but failing to prepare for such an eventuality is foolhardy. Now is the time to ramp up the Warm Home Discount and properly invest in home insulation – a missed opportunity which will cost families in the long term.

“The Chancellor will want to frame this as a “good times” statement but the government is still looking at £19 billion in effective spending cuts. The rest of us are looking at an overall tax burden that is rising due to £200 billion in stealth taxes. All told we are still facing the biggest drop in living standards since the 1950s – and it is on the Conservatives’ watch. This government cannot be trusted with our finances and it has to go.”