Green MP Caroline Lucas has slammed yesterday’s (21 March) budget as the “nail in the coffin” of the Coalition’s commitment to be “the greenest government ever”. She insisted that it is as damaging economically as it is environmentally.
Lucas, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, said the budget will “do nothing to deliver a greener or more prosperous economy”.
The Greens are particularly angry that ministers have attempted to use economic language to justify a lack of green policies. The party insist that economic and environmental considerations naturally fit together, rather than being opposites.
Lucas criticised Chancellor George Osborne for his “stubborn refusal” to accept that “investment in clean renewable energy and energy efficiency can simultaneously tackle the environmental crisis, stabilise the UK economy and create jobs”.
She said, “The determination to plough ahead with growth-at-any-cost planning reforms and aviation expansion, throw money at North Sea oil and gas, and ignore the potential of green energy shows that this administration's environmental policy is blue, not green”.
The Liberal Democrats were accused by the Greens of failing to influence the budget in a more progressive direction. They said that Liberal Democrat ministers had failed to secure “either a genuine mansion tax or a tycoon tax” to compensate for the cut in the top rate of income tax from 50p to 45p.
The top rate is paid only by people with an annual income above £150,000 – around one per cent of the population.
The Chancellor’s decision to cut the 50p rate was described by Caroline Lucas as “a slap in the face for the millions of working people across the country fighting a losing battle against falling wages, job insecurity, rising living costs and severe public spending cuts”.
She added that the government appeared “delusional” in suggesting that the private sector could compensate for massive public sector job losses, given the high and increasing rate of unemployment.