A day after Chancellor George Osborne's 2016 Budget slashed corporation tax while cutting disability benefits, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan was subjected to a predictably torrid grilling on BBC's Question Time. Asked how the government justified the two policies, Morgan at first denied it was doing so, but under pressure from host David Dimbleby said the government was still trying to fix all the damage done to the economy by Labour.
Morgan admitted changes were being made, but overall the amount being paid to disabled people would rise by £3bn ($4.3bn) during the current parliament. The changes were about the way needs were assessed and simplifying the process, making sure people could live independently. She also insisted corporations would pay more.
However the other members of the panel were unconvinced. Shadow Defence Secretary Emily Thornberry said the cuts would cost disabled people £67 week and that George Osborne had "showed his true colours" by hitting those who can't fight back.
Mark Littlewood of the Institute of Economic Affairs admitted he was a "low tax type of guy" but also pointed to six years of austerity. Savings were required but what the government had done was ring fence affluent pensioners in the form of winter fuel allowance, meaning savings had to be found elsewhere – including from those who can least afford it.
Roger Helmer (Ukip's leader in the European Parliament) scoffed at claims the Budget was for the next generation. It was, he said, for the next three months – or until the EU referendum. Osborne had got things "dramatically wrong" by picking on the disabled and far greater savings could be achieved by leaving the EU.
SNP politician Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh said Osborne had failed on debt, growth and numerous other markers and claims the budget was for the next generation was highly questionable. She claimed that Osborne had prevented 16-17 year olds from voting, cut housing benefits for young people and cut student grants.