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What will the summer budget mean for Leeds?

Read more on this story: Leeds MP slams the budget as ‘barbaric’


Scrapping maintenance grants could be detrimental for poorer students

Local students are concerned after The Chancellor his plans to scrap University maintenance grants for lower income students on Wednesday.

Scrapping the grant along with the already high tuition fees could put people off going to University altogether according to local University graduate, Harrison Isherwood, 22.

He said: “Although I wasn’t entitled to the maintenance grant during my course I still struggled to afford to pay for University life.

“My maintenance loan only just covered my accommodation so I had to take up a part time job to pay for the basics like food and bills, on top of my studies”

Prospective student Anastasia Yali, 18, says she’s looking forward to starting University in September but the constant rising costs are worrying.

She said: “I’m not too worried about the debt because you don’t have to pay it back until you start earning over the threshold but the amount does worry me slightly.

“My accommodation is already really expensive so I’ll probably have to get a job during University as well.”

George Osborne has also said tuition fees could rise with inflation but has defended his plans to scrap the maintenance grant, saying they’re becoming un-affordable for the taxpayer.

Shoppers in the Trinity Leeds centre

Shoppers in the Trinity Leeds centre

Shops could open longer in Leeds

By Emma Kirwan

Shops in Leeds could trade for longer on Sundays following an announcement in the Budget.

The proposal will give local authorities and elected mayors the power to relax laws which currently prevent larger stores from opening for more than six hours.

With online shopping trends increasing and a trial for longer opening hours during the 2012 Olympics, the Chancellor has suggested that there is a “growing appetite” for Sunday trading.

However, not everyone is backing his decision.

James Bateson, 29, Store Manager for Goldsmiths Boutique in Leeds Trinity Centre said: “I don’t think longer trading hours on Sundays will benefit our store. It is generally a quieter day and trade usually drops off around 4pm so there doesn’t seem much appetite for us to stay open when the centre is empty. Leeds has poor parking facilities and people have started to be charged to park on a Sunday, which I think reduces footfall.”

Under the Sunday Trading Act 1994, shops trading in spaces over 3,000 square feet can only remain open for six hours between 10am and 6pm.

There have also been mixed reactions about the announcement from shoppers in Leeds. Anastasia Appleyard, 22, from Rawdon said “I would definitely go shopping more often on a Sunday if shops were open longer. I work all week and like to relax on a weekend and if they stayed open a bit longer it would mean I could relax on a Sunday morning and shop later in the day- I don’t like shopping on Saturdays because it’s just too busy in town for me.” However Alya Parvin, 22, from Beeston said “Personally if the shops stay open later on a Sunday it wouldn’t make me want to shop more. I would only shop on a Sunday evening if I needed something urgently, but that’s hardly ever.”

The Chancellor acknowledged that the proposal will come up against some opposition. However he believes that he has the backing of the public and predicts it will significantly boost the economy.

He said: “There is some evidence that transactions for Sunday shopping are actually growing faster than those for Saturday. The rise of online shopping means more retailers want to be able to compete by opening for longer at the weekend. But this won’t be right for every area, so I want to devolve the power to make this decision to mayors and local authorities.”

The proposal is expected to be included in an Enterprise Bill in the autumn.


Chancellor defends budget after damning IFS report

by Hayley Longster

George Osborne has been forced to defend his budget amidst criticism that people are going to be worse off in the wake of his swingeing cuts.

The Chancellor had a tough time on BBC Breakfast this morning when faced with a barrage of criticism from members of the public and the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) on the large scale reduction in tax credits for working families.

Reporter Charlie Stayt read out several comments from the members of the public who had calculated their post-Budget economic forecasts and found them wanting. In response, the Chancellor merely repeated his earlier insistence that the Budget represented a ‘new contract for the country’.

The IFS has calculated that 13 million families will lose an average of £260 a year.

The Budget has nearly halved the amount of money people must earn before being eligible for tax credits – from £6426 to £3850 per year.

Also from 2017 people will only be able to claim child benefit for their first two children (new claimants).

Single parents, Universal Credit claimants and new claimants after the 2017 threshold will be the hardest hit by the changes.

A single parent on a low wage with only one child will come out £1000 worse off, even when earning the new living wage of £9.35 an hour.

In the most extreme example, a family with three children in 2018 will be £3450 worse off due to the combined cuts.

Broadly speaking, single people and smaller families on middle to higher incomes may come out better off.

What do you think?