This week Chancellor Philip Hammond produced his last budget before we exit the European Union. There were plenty of tricks in his Red Box.
Some were good, like his support for the Long Live the Local campaign led by the British Beer and Pub Association, which resulted in a .a freeze on Beer Duty Tax and greater business rate relief for smaller local pubs.
Some were mixed like his response to the failing Universal Credit roll-out, where he announced a £1bn investment and more help for working families - yet offered nothing to alleviate the crises for those waiting between 5-12 weeks for support, unable to pay rent, shop for food, or buy essential items.
And some, like his income tax hand-outs, were all too predictable for a Tory chancellor, benefitting the rich 14 times more than the poor and further widening the huge inequality gap in our economy. With the average wage at around £23k across Dagenham and Rainham this announcement holds little promise for families in our area.
It seems that those who have known austerity the least will benefit the most, while those who have known austerity the most will benefit the least. Once again, the Tories have shown little understanding of the struggles people are actually facing.
The Chancellor was fortunate to find healthier finances than predicted when putting his Budget together but the return to spending is based on a precarious plan that relies wholly on a smooth transition in March 2019 out of the EU. Given the failing state of those negotiations, that seems like a high-risk strategy to me.
But the take-away from Monday’s Budget for me was the complete lack of action on the number one issue in our community, and the country generally - namely, rising violent crime.
We know locally that violent crime has risen by up to 30 per cent across Dagenham and Rainham, and earlier this month a Home Office analysis stated that the cuts in police numbers had likely contributed to the rise nationally in violent crime.
Yet there was no commitment to invest in policing. It beggars belief that the government would not reinvest in police numbers and resources. The Tories are failing on policing and community safety. That’s not a trick, that’s the dreadful reality.