AS the country anxiously awaits the Chancellor rising to his feet and delivering the Autumn Statement, the question is, who will be the winners and who will be the losers?

Only last month we heard the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt MP say he was proud to live in a country where “there is a ladder everyone can climb, but also a safety net below which no one falls” – astonishing words, which Mr Hunt needs to act upon. Yet we have already heard from none other than the Prime Minister that the Autumn Statement may well include tax cuts and a squeeze on benefits, actions that do not sit well with Mr Hunt’s sentiments last month!

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The Conservatives are airing the possibility of a shift from the current arrangements to benefit increases. Those increases are based on the rate of inflation in September the previous year, however the Conservatives are airing the possibility of a move to October. This would result in the uplift being dropped by 2.1% , disproportionately affecting pensioners, single parents, the disabled and many more. This prompts the question, who exactly is the “safety net” catching, who is it there for?

The Autumn Statement must address the cost-of-living crisis we are all living through daily, it must address the housing crisis due to massive increases in mortgage rates, it must address the energy crisis of domestic fuel costs and it must address the queues at local food banks. This Autumn Statement must not be a sticking plaster for those in desperate need, while giving handouts to the rich through tax cuts.

Christmas is almost upon us – let’s hope Scrooge will not make an appearance tomorrow.

Catriona C Clark

JEREMY Hunt’s Autumn Statement will be an exercise in futility. He claims to seek economic growth but doesn’t understand the first thing about how to achieve it – and neither does Starmer’s Labour.

The source of the UK’s stagnation lies with the financialisation of its economy. Under Margaret Thatcher, it moved from productive industrial capitalism towards non-productive rentier/financial capitalism. Thatcher decimated the UK’s industrial base and replaced it with non-productive financial services.

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The irony is that 19th-century industrial capitalism got rid of feudalism, where landowners, bankers and monopolists extracted rent from assets without producing real value. But now feudalism is back, with the FIRE sector – finance, insurance and real estate – forming the basis of a neo-rentier economy as well as controlling the politicians. The UK is incapable of generating desperately needed industrial capital because it’s too busy extracting economic rent from fixed assets.

UK tax policies favour the wealthy, and the privatisation of public goods – transport, energy, communications, and increasingly healthcare and education – has kneecapped the economy. The private banking system serves monopoly interests, not small businesses. Wages are deliberately held down, workers are crippled with credit card debt, student debt, and rising rents and mortgages and, as a result, have less to spend on goods and services. Trade unions have been weakened, a fifth of households are in poverty and the rich grow richer.

There’s nothing Jeremy Hunt can say or do to change this dismal picture. What’s needed is a different nation and economy, one that serves the interests of the people, not the rentier oligarchs.

Scotland can be such a nation, but only if it ends the union.

Leah Gunn Barrett

THE media trailing of the content of Jeremy Hunt's Autumn Statement indicates that changes to the income tax rates are planned.

I am assured by the media “pundits” that these will not be tax hikes, but tax reductions. Can I ask those taxpayers on the higher rate, earning above the current £43,663, to increase their existing contribution to food banks? If they do not currently contribute to a local food bank, then please consider contributing to one in your area. There will be one.

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Early next year utility costs are predicted to increase, and the UK Government has withdrawn its support, so the “heat or eat” dilemma will be faced by many.

It is well known that a good balanced diet helps prevent long-term illnesses which cause demand on health services, so it is a win/win.

Before you ask, yes, I already contribute to a food bank.

Alistair Ballantyne

MY first involvement in politics was when I joined the Labour Party and worked hard, and contributed financially – not much, because I did not have much – in an effort to get Labour back into power. We achieved that in 1964 when Labour formed a government under Harold Wilson with an overall majority of four.

In spite of our efforts we soon discovered that the Wilson Labour Party was much further to the right than the Attlee government had been. Over the years I found every Labour government after that to have moved further to the right. Eventually they moved too far right for me and I gave up my membership and my support entirely.

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I could not have believed in my more terrible nightmares that a Labour leader would go so far right as to support a neo-fascist government committing genocide against a defenceless population, using modern aircraft to bomb them in their homes and even in the schools and hospitals and depriving them of water, food and power.

This is some move for the people’s party, which did so well under Attlee and is now an apologist for genocide. Surely the decent people who support the Labour Party will find this conduct unacceptable to them and will not give support to such unprincipled people.

Andy Anderson