Budget choices

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As EVER, Colin Hamilton (Letters, 13 November) makes a considered response to my letter of 12 November in which I raised the topic of budget cuts.

Mr Hamilton goes on to quote examples of the kind of hard choices in budgets which have to be made in times of imposed austerity and in so doing actually proves my central point.

We are in the middle of a sustained austerity drive which ­Labour have promised to continue if they are elected, which will continue to disproportionately punish the frail, the ill, the disabled, the vulnerable and people who have become known as the working poor, while the better-off are rewarded with the bribe of tax cuts.

And when Unicef reports that four million children throughout the UK are suffering poverty as a direct effect of George ­Osborne’s cuts to the welfare budget, it is time to acknowledge that the size of the “budget cake” could not be more important. This is where I fundamentally disagree with Mr Hamilton.

Mr Hamilton asks what has had to be sacrificed to provide universal benefits, but the remedy to this dilemma lies in his own hands. If we disagree with the principle of universal benefits, we can pay our fares on the buses and trams; donate the costs of our prescriptions to the NHS; pay for the free personal care of our elderly relatives and donate the money saved in our children’s tuition fees to the universities and colleges they ­attend. It’s simple really.

Douglas Turner

Derby Street

Edinburgh