REDDITCH Labour have criticised Rushi Sunak's Budget for being "out of touch" with working people.

The Chancellor unveiled his Budget this week for the "post Covid era" to create an "economy of higher wages, higher skills and rising productivity."

However, Labour campaigners in Redditch say more needs to be done to tackle rising bills; further increases need to be made to the minimum wage and VAT on fuel needs cutting.

The Chancellor cut the Universal Credit taper rate by 8% from 63p to 55p, allowing those in work to keep more of their payment, but Redditch Labour say this will only help one third of claimants, leaving others facing hardship.

Sharon Harvey, from Redditch Labour, said: "Labour campaigned to keep the £20 uplift. We would also increase the minimum wage to £10 per hour and cut VAT on fuel bills to 0%. The Conservatives have done nothing in this budget to tackle rising bills, once again the community and voluntary groups will be left to pick up the pieces - there will be increased demand on food banks and crisis support because of this budget."

Wednesday's Budget saw 50% business rates discount for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors to help businesses recover from the pandemic, but Redditch Labour say more needs to be done to help small businesses who will be facing a rise in National Insurance next year.

Joe Baker, owner of Omega Therapies in Batchley, said: "Every pound counts when you are a small business and while we welcome a reduction in the extortionate business rates we still have to cover national insurance increases. I am worried about a community which will have less disposable income to spend - if Redditch people are generally worse off that spells bad news for any local business."

The government pledged to restore education funding per pupil to 2010 levels, but Labour are concerned about the impact of rising school budgets.

Redditch teacher and party member Juliet Barker said: "Funding for education is negligible at the moment and so this gesture of levelling up is laughable since schools are still below the level of funding they were receiving in 2010.

"With the rate of inflation spiralling upwards this means that the schools will still be struggling to play catch up to afford well qualified staff and pay for the daily running cost of a school."

Welcoming the Spending Review, Redditch MP Rachel Maclean, said: “Despite the unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic, this Government is getting on with the job and delivering on the priorities of my constituents.

“I know my constituents are facing increasing pressures on their budgets right now, so I’m pleased the National Living Wage is being increased to £9.50 an hour and that the Universal Credit taper rate is being reduced by 8% which will help with the cost of living.

“Our vital public services will also receive billions of pounds more in funding. This means more money for our NHS, for our councils, for our police and all services my constituents rely on.

"I was re-elected to unlock the full potential of our town and to improve opportunity for my constituents and I’m continuing to deliver on that promise.”