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Oxfam brands 'Robin Hood' budget farcical and a missed opportunity to tackle rising inequality

Posted by David Eyre UK Poverty Press Officer

21st Mar 2012

Responding to today's Budget, Oxfam Scotland says it's a missed opportunity to tackle rising inequality and raise billions of pounds for public services across the UK.

The charity - which works extensively with local partners across Scotland - brands claims that this is a 'Robin Hood' budget "a farce".

The Chancellor announced a cut in the 50p top rate of rate to 45p for the highest earners in the country, who together make up around 1% of the population. At the same time he suggested further cuts to the welfare budget - which will hit those on the lowest incomes.

Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: "It is a farce to call this a 'Robin Hood' Budget when it has failed to support the poorest people in society and those who have lost their jobs.

"The Chancellor is wrong to say every person on low and middle incomes will be better off. Whilst a rise in the income tax threshold will offer welcome help to many, the 'squashed bottom', those earning less than £8,105, won't feel any benefit at all.

"And on top of that, the suggested additional £10 billion cuts to welfare would be catastrophic for working families on low incomes and people who are struggling to find work.

"Sharing prosperity through fair taxation is a vital part of building a fair society. Inequality is ising in most countries around the world, including Scotland. If we don't act to tackle it now, we are in danger of becoming a society that is permanently divided."

Oxfam is also disappointed the Chancellor failed to support a Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions - a move which could raise up to £20 billion per year in the UK to invest in poverty reduction at home and abroad, as well as tackling climate change.

Judith Roberson said: "Rather than taking yet more money from the poorest the government should make those that caused the financial crisis pay their fair share with a Robin Hood Tax.

"A poll for Oxfam showed that 62% of Scots support such a measure, as do a growing number of European countries and 1,000 leading economists. It's an idea whose time has come and we urge the Chancellor to get behind it.

"The Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones recently came out in support of this tax and we want Scotland's First Minister to heap further pressure on the UK Government by doing the same."

1. In June 2011, a YouGov survey, commissioned by Oxfam Scotland, revealed that 62% of Scots support the idea of a charge on the transactions between financial institutions. Only 20% were opposed to the idea, with 18% unsure.

2. In February this year, Wales' First Minister Carwyn Jones became the first government leader in the UK to voice his support for the Robin Hood Tax. Mr Jones joined a growing list of global political, business and civil leaders - including the billionaire Bill Gates and French President Nicolas Sarkozy - who support the measure. Alex Salmond's own economic adviser - the Nobel Prize-winning economist, and former Senior Vice President of the World Bank, Professor Joseph Stiglitz - also backs the tax.

Blog post written by David Eyre

UK Poverty Press Officer

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