Today, on International Day of Forests, think about the last time you had a walk in a forest. You probably enjoyed its beauty and calmness, the pictur...
After a litany of failure, it's now time that Osborne recognised the damage and pain these cuts will cause and end his targeting of disabled people. This is the right thing to do not just for disabled people - but for all of us who believe in a fair, decent and caring country.
Sometimes it's the people with whom we work most closely that end up knowing us the best. So it has proved with George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith. That's why IDS's observation in his resignation letter to the Prime Minister was so revealing. In it, he said: "I am unable to watch passively whilst certain policies are enacted in order to meet the fiscal self-imposed restraints that I believe are more and more perceived as distinctly political rather than in the national economic interest". For once IDS has hit the nail on the head. George Osborne is a man who always puts his career before his country. The nation's economic interest is not his primary concern.
Encouraging more saving is a worthy objective that public policy should be looking to achieve, and this kind of measure will help younger people save for both of these events. However, like other recent initiatives, such as Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantees, or Starter Homes, they provide an attractive product for consumers now, but may prove much less helpful in the long-run.
The unfortunate truth about the Budget is that it was a bit like a sugary drink: fizzy and largely sweet. But it will not be the last word on how well we do this year; and the omens are not looking good for Budget 2017.
The strong opposition that Labour is providing to Tory austerity - and the credible, coherent alternative that puts investment in our future at its core - makes this, and victory in 2020, possible. Then, if we create a better, balanced economy, our children and grandchildren can grow up in a world where things get better.
Behind all the sugary headlines the news is grim. After six years of the Tories, our economy is far weaker than they claimed, public services will be cut some more, inequality is getting worse. And once again women are being harder hit. George Osborne's plan is failing to meet his own targets, failing to deliver for Britain and he's making women pay the price.
Eighteen times Mr Osborne claimed to be speaking up for "the next generation". But I cannot count the number of times I have heard from young people about the harmful effects they are suffering from this Government's policies.
This Budget was a test for George Osborne, a test to see whether he can deliver a budget that is fair and one that helps us build for the future. It's a test he has failed. Growth is down. Exports are down. Productivity is down. And wage growth and disposable income are down. The only things rising? Debt and the deficit. These are failures that don't deliver on fairness, and don't deliver for the future... This is Osborne's eighth Budget - and his record of failure is there for all to see. The tragedy is that it is ordinary British families who are paying the price of that failure.
The truth is that young people have been little more than rhetorical window dressing for Osborne's budget. There was nothing on Wednesday that will make the tangible improvements to their life chances that they need. They still look set to be the first generation to have worse living standards than their parents.
This is just fiddling the figures. It's not economics, it's pure politics. The truth is that this is a hit and hope-for-the-best budget. He has knocked all of the tough decisions into the thickest long grass he can find, and has crossed his fingers that something will happen in the next few years to rescue him. It is a huge roll of the dice that undermines all of his empty words on security and responsibility.
The Chancellor has cut taxes for corporations and lifted the threshold for the 40p income tax - both measures that will predominantly benefit men - while making cuts to essential services and to benefits for people with disabilities.
Today, the Chancellor confirmed that the Government will be making changes to the disability benefits. These are going to make many disabled people's lives harder. It is a very worrying and uncertain time for disabled people, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet.
We are told, time and time again, that the government should spend taxpayer money wisely, efficiently, and sustainably. Often these pronouncements are followed by promises to use taxpayer money well by cutting government spending and making efficiency improvements. There is an assumption behind these statements that is utterly inaccurate and dishonest, however. Namely, that there is such a thing as "taxpayer money."
As a Treasury Minister, apprehension always hung heavy in the air on the day before a Budget. Would centrepiece polices come across clearly? Would problems we wanted to downplay loom large? Would the Budget go down well with our MPs, with the media and above all with the public? Today George Osborne has much to be apprehensive about. Four months ago in the Spending Review he insisted that the economy was on the up and so "the savings we need are considerably smaller". This week he's been touring TV studios warning that "the storm clouds are clearly gathering" and that billions of pound of fresh cuts now need to be made.
This Budget reminds me of Bill Murray's Groundhog Day. I looked back at a blog I wrote on George Osborne's 2011 budget, and as well as feeling old, I feel repetitive. Over the past seven years budget after budget has been deemed regressive. This budget looks to be no different... The cumulative impact of seven years of regressive budgets has been dire for women and the most vulnerable in society.