The following article was written by Senior Reporter Sukran Sahin, and published by the Barking and Dagenham Post on Wednesday 28th March. You can view the original piece here:
Sukran Sahin reports on how the latest Budget will impact on local people:
"Unfair" was the verdict of a group of Barking and Dagenham pensioners on new rules in the Budget which will see money taken away from those who have worked and paid into the system for decades.
Their comments were made during a meeting of SilverNet, the borough's older people's forum, a couple of days after the chancellor, George Osborne, unveiled his Budget for 2012-13.
Lawrence Darani, co-ordinator of the group, told the Post: "The main feeling was that it was unfair and that it's the start of an attack on older people."
Pensioners will have to pay the same tax rates as the rest of the population, losing out on an average £83 a year.
The Budget also means that some families may lose their working tax credit unless they agree to work longer hours.
Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas called the rule "inexcusable and unacceptable".
But there was a perk for those at the lower end of the pay spectrum, as the personal tax allowance, or income tax threshold, was raised to £9,205 from 2013. The rate for 2012-13 is £ 8,105.
Greta Farian, from the Barking and Dagenham branch of the Unison union, said: "The Budget does not really do anything for the unemployed or the poor."
While welcoming the increase in the tax threshold, she added: "At the same time many working families are losing out in changes to the child tax credit and will be hit by the housing benefit cap. The government gives with one hand and takes with the other."
There will be less money for the middle class, gifts to the super-rich and little change for those at the bottom of the pile – apart from the anticipation of further benefit cuts and more working hours for poor families if they want to keep their working tax credit.
The chancellor however, insisted that the measures were fair. But his tactic of juxtaposing unpopular taxes with small giveaways during last week's Budget speech failed to avoid widespread outrage over the government's priorities when it revealed a tax cut for the rich and a tax allowance freeze on pensioners.
The highest earners in the country will be even better off after the chancellor reduced the highest income tax rate from 50p in the pound to 45p, although they will have to pay 7 per cent stamp duty on homes worth more than £2million.
Another added and hidden strain on the living standards of those on lower incomes will be a VAT increase of 2 per cent, as taxes on consumer goods always hit the poorer harder.
Local MP Jon Cruddas says Government cuts to Working Tax Credits are "inexcusable and unacceptable"