The chancellor Jeremy Hunt revealed his Spring Budget on Wednesday (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty)
This week’s Budget has of course generate plenty of correspondence, but so too has one reader’s comment about the effects of the pandemic on our nation’s mental health.
Meanwhile, another reader’s comment about a royal referendum has prompted plenty of discussion. Read on to find out more, and don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments below.
■ Jeremy Hunt has revealed plans for apprenticeships for the over-50s and tax cuts on pension contributions to encourage older people to stay in work (Metro, Thu).
Announcing his first Budget, the chancellor said he wanted ‘experienced’ workers reaching their sixth decade to look at the future with confidence instead of suffering ‘anxiety about the cliff-edge of retirement’.
Getting over-50s back into work isn’t going to be easy. I was in a job I loved and because of my skills, I was paid substantially more than someone entering my profession.
However, a new boss viewed me and others my age as a financial drain on his budget. He saw the opportunity to employ two juniors for the salary I was paid.
This attitude has to change first. I will not be returning to work as I’m thoroughly enjoying the freedom from long working hours and work-related stress that an early retirement has brought me. Ingrid Becker, Nottingham
Spring Budget 2023: Key points
Seven key takeaways from today’s Budget
Energy price guarantee to remain at £2,500 for the next three months
30 hours of free childcare for every child over the age of 9 months
Pension changes coming in 2023 – from payment rises to tax cuts
To get the latest from the Budget announcement visit Metro.co.uk’s Metro’s Budget news hub.
■ With local elections on the horizon, and abysmal government poll ratings, giveaways in Wednesday’s Budget were to be expected. We duly got them.
However, basic economic problems remain – the sky-high cost of living, inadequate social benefits, the exclusive emphasis on profit in business objectives.
Critically, too, we continue to live under the broken Thatcher-Reagan economic model. There was not a hint in Hunt’s statement that he would address the fundamental ‘stakeholder’ issues that are required to restore fairness and social cohesion in the UK. These are: the need for new companies legislation, adequate social security, a real commitment to support the public as well as the private sector – and a new government in order that these can be implemented. Andrew McLuskey, Ashford, Middlesex
Beer featured in Wednesday’s Budget
■ Duty on a draught pint of beer in a pub will be frozen. It’s too little, too late. Most of us can’t afford to drink in pubs – unless it’s a Wetherspoons – so we’ll have to drink at home. The worst thing is that wine will go up by 10.1 per cent, although duty on petrol will be frozen. It may be cheaper to drink petrol, methinks, although I accept it’s not for everyone. Martin Lawrence, South Croydon
■ I wasn’t going to respond to Vicki (MetroTalk, Thu), who was ‘flummoxed’ by Covid-related mental health issues, but she has gone a step too far in saying that ‘today’s youngsters can’t seem to cope with life. We have all lost someone close to us or had a difficult time but life goes on. I find it a bit pathetic’.
She seems unaware of the existing social issues amplified by Covid lockdowns. Poverty in cramped homes, food poverty for families relying on school meals, children’s underdeveloped social skills and increased anxiety when in large groups – some adults also suffer this.
In addition, domestic abuse was harder to escape from. Financial uncertainty, lack of access to the outdoors and social groups, loneliness, loss… the list of Covid-related causes for mental health issues goes on.
I’m pleased for Vicki, who avoided these problems or developed resilience. Lucky you. Either way, mental health isn’t one-size-fits-all and people don’t need any of the reasons listed to justify mental health struggles. A little kindness, some research and empathy can go a long way, Vicki. Georgina, Hertfordshire
The National Covid Memorial Wall in Waterloo, London (Picture: Getty)
■ Yes, Vicki, people with mental illness can’t cope well with life. The slightest upset can leave us with issues. Add to that the torture of being forced indoors and feeling alone during Covid lockdown, money worries with the rising cost of living and interest rates, inflating rent and mortgage payments.
Believe me, I am glad it hasn’t affected you as much as it has others but please don’t demean other people’s struggles because you can’t understand how it feels. It sounded as if you were one sentence away from telling people to ‘man up and get on with it’. Tom, Orpington
■ Ann in Kingston (MetroTalk, Wed) says that ‘normal grieving is not an illness’. The pandemic led to loss on a historic scale. It was not ‘normal’ grieving. Julie, Buckinghamshire
■ I agree with Ann in Kingston, who says we need to stop using the medical term ‘depression’ for ‘every little setback in life’. Where has all the ‘I’m sad, I’m fed up and unhappy’ gone? Now it’s ‘I’ve got depression’. I’ve met people with real depression and I wouldn’t like to go down that road. Sheila, Enfield
■ We are very fortunate to have been born in the generation we live in. Our ancestors had a much tougher life. Covid happened, it was nobody’s fault, these things happen and we have to deal with it as best we can. Denise, London
King Charles will be crowned in May – what are your thoughts on the monarchy? (Picture: PA)
Who wants a politician as our head of state?
■ Dominic (MetroTalk, Thu) says he is a republican because every child in Britain should be able to aspire to be head of state – something denied to them under a monarchy.
He misunderstands the King’s role, which is merely symbolic and has no real power. The real power is with the prime minister – every child can already aspire to that role. Paul, London
■ I don’t want another here-today, gone-tomorrow politician as my head of state, thank you.
I like the continuity and stability that the monarchy gives us. The Crown is our oldest and most important institution and of enormous value to this country internationally.
The royal family can do things to promote the UK’s interests that politicians can’t. No one wants President Sunak or Starmer.
Dominic wants a referendum on the monarchy but referendums cost money and we have other things to spend our money on. James Allenby, St Leonards-on-Sea
■ Don’t show any deference to those who put themselves above their fellow man – kings and queens, popes, presidents, prime ministers, the rich… They are humans like everyone else.
You’re as good as them – don’t bow and scrape to them. No one rules over me, everyone is equal. You’re not special if you’ve got a title or are rich. James Roper, Sunderland
■ Dominic suggests holding a referendum on the monarchy so everyone can have a chance at being head of state. How does he recommend we go about this? With a sword in the stone, perhaps? Dave Layton, Nottingham
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