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Emergency budget 2010: Dear Chancellor

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 22 June 2010

As the Chancellor prepares to deliver his emergency budget, a teaching assistant, a small business owner and a disabled pensioner tell Channel 4 News what they would like to hear from George Osborne.

As the Chancellor prepares to deliver his emergency budget, a teaching assistant, a small business owner and a disabled pensioner tell Channel 4 News what they would like to hear from George Osborne.

Letters to the Chancellor on this page:
- Joanne Morgan, teaching assistant
- Mike Cherry, small business owner
- Valerie Tugwell, pensioner

Letter from Joanne Morgan, teaching assistant,  from Torfaen

Dear Chancellor,

As a teaching assistant, I see first-hand how children are suffering due to the public spending cuts, as their learning opportunities and support are slashed.

The government is happy to let millions of people who currently work in and rely on public services have their lives devastated by these cuts, but they must also realise the long-term effect, as the next generation begin to pay the price.

Teaching assistant Joanne Morgan

Along with children who will grow up without the learning support they need, teenagers and adult learners are already being turned away from colleges and universities and training schemes cut.  We are also seeing vulnerable people left without care and whole communities facing a future without proper access to libraries.

Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers will be joining the record levels of unemployed people at the dole office.

So far I have survived the public sector cull, but I and many of my colleagues still face an uncertain future with funding cuts, job losses, lack of resources, pay cuts and worsening conditions.

I love working in the public sector and feel that I am valued by the school I work for, by the parents and the children I work with, but I also know that everyone is at risk.

With three teenagers living with me, I struggle to make ends meet as it is, but I worry that restructuring will lead to redundancies. Even if I do stay the skeleton staff who are left will be forced to work doubly hard for less reward.

The government is constantly trying to pit public sector workers against those in the private sector - despite us doing completely different jobs. They do not seem to realise that many families include workers from both - and we all rely on them throughout our lives.

We are under constant attack and so often the subject of misleading stories, especially about pensions.

The call for a public sector pension levy made me laugh.  I can barely afford to pay my bills now - how am I expected to contribute more than I already do to my measly pension fund?

Those who have made it through all these attacks don't even have something to look forward to at the end of it.

I expect to get couple of thousand pounds a year when I retire, despite having always made contributions - this is hardly " P gold-plated?.<> The government must stop targeting defenceless public services workers, who continue to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and continue to try and create a better society for all.

Only the rich seem to be outside the line of fire – the government should target the greedy bankers who caused this mess in the first place.

More budget analysis from Channel 4 News
- Expert view: what will the budget bring?
- Gary Gibbon: billions of reasons for raising VAT on budget day
- 'Council tax freeze' softener for budget cuts
- Cuts could test Lib Dem unity
- FactCheck: gold-plated public sector pensions?

Letter from Mike Cherry, Policy Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses

Dear Chancellor,

As with most small business owners, I want to see clear plans to tackle the public deficit. Research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) - where I am Policy Chairman – shows that more than 90 per cent of small firms want to see the deficit cut to help regain confidence in the economy. 

As an employer, the latest rise in unemployment is worrying.

Small business owner Mike Cherry

At my business, a timber manufacturing firm based in Staffordshire, we employ around six members of staff. I have just taken on a new full time employee and we are looking to take on two more in the future. But any rises in National Insurance Contributions (NICs) would be a tax on jobs and a real deterrence for me to move forward with these plans in the short-term.

By making the first three employees taken on by small firms exempt from NICs for the next year, as the FSB is calling for, it would send out the right message, especially to those businesses looking to grow and expand to strengthen the economy.

I know that there are going to be some painful cuts and that taxes have to will rise. So if there is one tax that must rise, and from what we have heard will, it is VAT.

However, the government must recognise that a decision on timing is vital for small firms' cash-flow.  Our members have told us that the move to reduce VAT to 15 per cent in 2008 cost the average small business £1,500 in administration alone.

Small firms do not have the financial buffers available to be able to absorb an increase in VAT. The Government must include a sunset clause to allow small firms to plan for the eventual reduction and send a strong message that while tax increases are necessary in the current climate, that they won’t last forever and that this Government is a low tax administration.

Late payment by large customers remains another serious issue for too many small businesses, my own included, and creates unnecessary work in having to continually chase bad payers when we need to be focusing more on growth. I would urge the Government to ensure Companies House is given the powers to name, shame and fine late payers and implement a ‘Social Clause’ in national and local Government contracts.

My family business has been going since 1897 and has fared well throughout this recession despite all the issues we face. But not all businesses have been so lucky, be they new or well established.

Small firms are vital to our economy and we need the coalition Government to ‘think small first’ so that we can get on with building our businesses, taking on new staff and growing the economy as it is the UK’s small businesses that will be the drivers to pull us fully out of recession.

Letter from Ms Valerie May Tugwell, aged 75

Dear Chancellor,

I realise the country’s finances are in a mess and that cuts have to be made but please don’t let the cuts fall on people like me.

I am a pensioner living on my own, with a range of health problems and totally housebound.

I am severely disabled, unable to do the things that most people take for granted without assistance. I rely on carers four times a day to see to my personal needs - to get me out of bed, wash me, dish up my food, reach out for things for me.

These carers are my lifeline - without them, I would be unable to survive.

I worked hard before my arthritis got the better of me and I was forced to retire. I used to be a bus conductor with London Transport and missed it terribly, when I could not carry on because the pain from my arthritis was so bad that I had to take 16 tablets a day.

All my wages went on my family and home, so I haven’t got any savings. So, unfortunately, I have to rely on the state to pay me benefits and to pay for my carers.

Without my benefits and my carers, I would be utterly helpless and totally lost. I worry so much about my situation that I would rather die than live without that support.

I do feel guilty about taking money from the state when there isn’t enough to go around, but I have no choice – my health problems prevent me from being able to do what other people take for granted.

I would love to be able to swap places with George Osborne and be able to do things for myself - earn money, go out, go shopping, meet and talk to people… but that is not to be.

I am the one stuck at home, so please – Mr Osborne – don’t take local care services, which are my lifeline, away from me or others like me.

Yours sincerely,

V.M. Tugwell

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