A WAR of words has broken out between two politicians vying to be Wyre Forest’s next Member of Parliament.
Current Conservative MP Mark Garnier defended the coalition government’s latest budget – revealed last week – as “positive” after Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Wyre Forest, Matt Lamb, slammed Chancellor George Osborne’s proposals as “out of touch with hard-working people”.
The budget included plans to raise the personal tax allowance to £10,500 and increase the annual tax-free savings limit to £15,000, abolishing the 10p tax rate for savers. Tax restrictions on pensioners’ access to their pension pots will be removed. Beer duty will be cut by 1p a pint and bingo tax halved to 10 per cent from April 1. A fuel duty rise planned for September will not go ahead and the welfare budget will be capped at £119 billion next year.
Mr Lamb, however, said only people at the top were feeling the economic recovery and families in Wyre Forest were £1,600 a year worse off than in 2010 and faced a “cost-of-living crisis”.
He said: “The budget proved you’re worse off under the Tories. There was no action to deal with the cost-of-living crisis facing hard-working families. The Chancellor talked about how well things are going, but working people on middle and lower incomes in Wyre Forest are not feeling any recovery at all, while those earning more than £150,000 a year have been given a tax cut.”
He said a Labour government, if elected next year, would freeze energy bills until 2017, cut taxes for people on middle incomes and get more young people into work, but Mr Garnier said the party had “no policies”.
He said: “What I am hearing is the pension measures seem to have been astonishingly well received. There was a whole load of stuff in terms of helping people at the other end of the scale.
“Labour, generally, have not come to terms with the facts. They are in denial with the government finance problem we are trying to sort out. What we have done is put in place a two-Parliament strategy because that’s how long we think it is going to take. We are trying to do it in a way that does not affect people’s lives.
He said Labour’s energy price freeze would not work and the party had not worked out how it would fund its other ideas, adding a bankers’ bonus tax had already been spent seven times over.
The election is due to be held on May 7, 2015, and Independent Community and Health Concern’s Dr Richard Taylor and the UK Independence Party’s Michael Wrench have signalled their intentions to run in Wyre Forest.