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Friday, 30 October 2015

Where should we spend £34billion of taxpayers money?

Corbyn backs calls for Scottish Labour to vote against Trident renewal

Kezia Dugdale  Scottish Labour leader

It is beyond belief that in a week which saw impassioned speeches against cuts to Income Tax Credits, and equally passionate speeches from supporters of the cuts, arguing how the country cannot afford to continue to support families who rely on the "top up" to their income, that there can be any debate surrounding a replacement for the existing Trident "deterrent".
In 2014 Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit had a combined cost £30 billion per year. However, the high cost of this benefit is predominately due to more firms taking the option to pay lower salaries and even offer even more "Zero hour" contracts, knowing that the government will subsidise the low pay with taxpayers money. This is not an argument for cutting the benefit, but more of an argument for ensuring that employers pay more. Just this one example of the government pleading poverty in order to justify cuts to public expenditure in the name of austerity, particularly where such cuts are made in the budgets of welfare, is reason enough to question the candor of those pressing for expenditure on what may be argued to be "prestige projects", such as HS2, Heathrow runway expansion, Hinkley point or as in this case, the replacement of the trident nuclear deterrent.
The cost of this one programme alone, has been estimated to be anywhere between £34 billion and £100 billion and history tells us that these estimates, made before the start of the project, and with monotonous regularity,  invariably result in significant cost over runs. It really is not good enough for politicians and supporters of Trident to argue that these costs come out of "a different pot" and would therefore have no effect. The unavoidable fact is that there already exists a "deterrent" and all that we are doing is replacing it.
If there is a choice between replacing the United Kingdom's "weapon of mass destruction", particularly when we already have one, or supporting working families in this country by throwing out the Working Tax Credit, and other cuts, there should be no debate as to where the £34 billion or £100 billion (minimum), should be allocated.