Eyes down! This week the Chancellor stood at the despatch box and delivered his ‘bingo budget’, but there was nothing for buses in his statement.
Widely reported as being ‘fiscally neutral’, for every give-away there was a cut somewhere else. Our campaigning centred on a call for the Chancellor ‘not to miss the bus in the Budget’ but unfortunately he did, preferring to take his Jaguar to the Commons and then give tax breaks for Bingo Halls instead.
Now, we are not saying that bingo halls don’t deserve a tax break but the £50 million or so that this cost could have gone a long way to providing the urgently needed funding to keep much needed bus services running.Ironically many bingo players across the country rely on the very bus services that have already been cut or are currently under threat. What is the point in giving tax breaks to bingo halls if the bingo players cannot get to them because their buses have been cut?
This is unfortunately an issue that is far beyond a laughing matter as the impacts of continued cuts to bus services are being felt across the country by the young and old, workers and jobseekers, but their calls for the Government to support buses seem to falling on deaf ears.
29 very high profile Charities, NGO’s and Trade Unions including the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, Age UK, NUS and the Campaign to End Loneliness joined together in calling for urgent Government action in tackling the cuts to bus services, whilst over 600 people also sent George Osborne a clear email message.
In response we got a very short 7 sentences in a letter from Danny Alexander MP which didn’t say very much at all (attached below).
We will not accept this as an adequate response to our campaign and will continue to call for an urgent Government review into bus funding whilst making practical suggestions for how bus funding can be managed.
Thank you to everyone who supported our campaign. Watch this space for how you help again in the coming weeks and months.