Alternative suggestions for a happier Budget day.
The government's efforts to deal with the deficit so far have focused on cutting public spending (Budget 2013, 19 March). Since 2010, 1,500 fire fighters have lost their jobs; over 300 libraries and 400 Sure Start centres have closed; police numbers have been reduced by over 6,000 and there are 5,000 fewer nurses. The rise in people relying on food banks is a clear sign that many are facing high levels of economic and social distress.
We believe the government should invest in growth. Local government is demonstrating its ability to drive growth by providing infrastructure investment and supporting local businesses. Allowing local government to borrow in line with prudential rules will enable us to invest in building houses and create desperately needed jobs. Councils have been handed some of the deepest cuts in the public sector. Local authorities have seen their budgets cut by 33% in comparison to 8% across Whitehall departments. Further cuts to local government would only shift costs to other public services leading to more budget pressures overall on healthcare, policing and prison services. We believe the chancellor faces a clear choice. Rather than hitting frontline services, this budget presents an opportunity to pool funding across public agencies and could save taxpayers up to £4bn each year. We are offering help to deliver this policy.At a time of increased unemployment, the nation's safety net has been seriously compromised. The bedroom tax, council-tax benefit reductions and other cuts will mean that many people will struggle to keep their heads above water. We believe support should be given to those who are being hit hardest by the economic downturn. Scrapping the bedroom tax and looking again at the costs to families of all the benefit changes should be a priority before giving tax cuts to the richest people in the country.
Cllr Albert Bore Leader, Birmingham council, Cllr Sarah Hayward Leader, Camden council, Cllr Mehboob Khan Leader, Kirklees Metropolitan Council and 139 other Labour council leaders, mayors and Labour group leaders
Full list at http://www.local.gov.uk/web/lgalabour/home/-/journal_content/56/12197/3922631/article-template
• Richard Brooks is correct to say that while the government is trying to be seen to be tackling tax avoidance, ministers instead are introducing policies to ensure companies pay less tax (The great tax avoidance swindle, 18 March). The government has already been criticised by the Lords for not being clear that its proposals for a general anti-abuse rule, to be included in the budget, will have little or no impact on companies like Amazon and Starbucks.Worse, our research has revealed that the proposed measure would give a green light for companies to avoid billions in tax, by only targeting the very fringes of what is now considered to be legal. If the chancellor is serious about tackling the moral repugnance of tax avoidance, he should launch an anti-avoidance principle, aimed at eliminating corporate tax avoidance. Our analysis shows this simple move alone could recover up to £5.5bn lost to the public purse by tax avoidance every year.
Senior campaigns officer, War on Want
• In a delicious irony, the UN has designated today the first International Day of Happiness.