The Human Cost of the Bedroom Tax | Futile Democracy


The Human Cost of the Bedroom Tax | Futile Democracy.

“Firstly, it is important to note that the Court did find that the policy was discriminatory toward some disabled people. Try to remember that, when you hear the joyful response from Conservative MPs. They are expressing delight at the fact that they now have a legal right to discriminate against people with disabilities. This is the nature of the Conservative Party in 2013.”

Excellent article!  Just waiting for them to bring back the workhouses.  Considering how this lot are acting, it’s only a matter of time.

If it carries on like this, we will have to protest to retain our right to protest!.


“These protesters are not defying the will of the British people; they are expressing it. Look at their two great causes: opposing £27,000-a-degree fees for university students, and making the super-rich pay the £120bn they currently avoid in tax. Opponents of top-up fees outnumber supporters by 10 percent, while 77 percent of us support a massive crackdown on the people who live here but do not pay taxes here. This isn’t an attack on democracy, it’s a demand for it. It’s a refusal to be part of the silent majority any more. When politicians are defying the will of the people – and breaking the “solemn pledges” on which they took our votes – protest is necessary.”

On top of being a somewhat vocal atheist, my other focus is politics.  Why?  Because it affects everything.  If we simply sit back and ignore the super rich Tory-boys who now seek not only to run our lives, but seem not to be trying their damnedest to ruin the lives of over half a million people, then we do deserve everything we get.  If, however, we wake up to our social responsibilities as citizens of the UK and maintain the pressure on the government to stick to promises and policies they made during the General Election in May.  Those promises were made to win votes and they did especially in the case of the Liberal Democrats who at the choice seemed a reasonable alternative to Labour.  Those hopes have been dashed and Clegg (not just because he’s currently my favourite whipping boy) has not only destroyed is own credibility but has probably sealed all elections results for the liberals for the next several generations.  I know that I will never vote for his party for as long as Clegg is an active member.

This is now available on iTunes for £0.79p.  I have already downloaded mine (we also need this to beat whatever corporate overly processed crap that the x-factor produce to be the Christmas no. 1.

This government is a farce and a poor one at that but this is not what this post is about.  Johann Hari of The Independent is of the belief that public spirit has been quietly eroded over the last decades by protest planning behaviour and by harrowing reports of heavy-handed policing.  There was certainly no need to drag a disabled student out of his chair and drag him across a road (let alone twice) and I sincerely hope that those responsible for that disgusting display of brutality are severely disciplined.  So what if he was mouthing off.  Did that seriously pose a threat to officers or the public?  I think not.  This is not the beginning of the slow deconstruction of the right to peaceful protest as it has been going on for some time. Even New Labour would claim that the youth of the country were apathetic and disengaged with society but this was truly due to the lack of complaints but had it not crossed their minds that it was because they had nothing to complain about or maybe even that the atmosphere of self-interested ‘individualism’ was so well propagated in their parents’ generation that it has not quite worked its way out of the social attitude?  Now the is something to justly protest against they are again on the receiving end of unfair criticism.  It is being implemented through a blanket of police and political intimidation launched against all who dare to exercise their right to peaceful protest.

“Of course, it is never justified in a democracy to launch violent attacks on people. Anybody who throws a fire extinguisher off a roof, or throws fire crackers and snooker balls at police officers, should be arrested and charged. It’s morally wrong, and tactically idiotic: it puts people off the protesters’ just cause. That’s why whenever it has happened, the protesters themselves have immediately turned on the violent fringe and made them stop. Yet the government is claiming that to deal with this tiny number of people – a few dozen – it’s necessary to restrict the basic rights to free assembly that have been won over centuries.” Johann Hari

Hundreds were held on Westminster Bridge for hours in the freezing cold with no toilet and nothing to drink.  It did not matter whether people were involved or not and one cannot help the suspicion that this tactic was used to stir ill-feeling among non-protesters who were caught up in the ‘kettle’.  It is all very well that protests must be planned so they do not cause unnecessary disruption to those not involved.  When some students failed to stick to an agreed route they were ALL rounded up.  It is wrong to pressurise or frighten people out of using their right to protest,  unconscionable that the police who are also being cut back to the bone are using their power against unarmed and rightly disgruntled students, and despicable that the coalition government are trying to push this country back to a point where further education was only available to the very rich when many of those in parliament received their education for free.  Free education to all didn’t seem to bother them when they were studying to be nameless back-benchers.

“In reality, these tactics are provoking more violent protest than they prevent. It’s enraging to turn up to peacefully express your views outside parliament and find yourself suddenly imprisoned by police officers who won’t even let you go to the toilet. It doesn’t cool people down, it makes them burn up. There is an obvious alternative to kettling, and it was the norm in Britain until the Mayday protests of 2001 when the tactic was born. It’s simple: arrest anyone who commits an act of violence, instead of imposing mass imprisonment on everyone present. It’s called good policing.” Johann Hari

Separating the masses from a right to further education (by making it prohibitively expensive, it is essentially being revoked) is crass and ultimately very damaging to society as a whole.  At this rate we’ll have ten-year olds stitching footballs in order to pay for their maths lessons.  But it’s not just the police that seem to be suffering from acute-uptake-deficiency disorder, but also those who lean to the right and are of the ‘everyone should be on their own persuasion‘. What this means is everyone out for themselves in a bite-or-be-bitten society.  It is a kin to ‘social Darwinism‘ which oddly enough is often grossly misunderstood and then adopted by both the religious-right and the Libertarian ‘Objectivist’ fringe in the US in order to (weakly) defend their ridiculous ideals.  We pay taxes in order to maintain public services so when our services are cut we SHOULD demand a rebate. The coalition have conspicuously been grabbing back and slashing public spending with their machete-like callousness while conveniently ignoring the loopholes in tax laws which allow them and their ilk to avoid paying the £120 billion shortfall which would close the gap overnight.

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.” – George Orwell, 1984

No violence is justified in these matters from either side.   This is regardless of whether or not we’re in a democracy.  It has no place and we must not give into the bullying of those who have placed themselves in positions of authority over us.  Though they rely on our votes to keep them in power they forget the plain facts that they were elected to represent the interests of those who voted for them; we are not here to protect theirs.  They win votes by making promises and should be held to those principles and if they do not they MUST be called up on it publicly and relentlessly.  Students are not the only people to suffer in the wave of savagery against those who are worst off.  The Independent Living Allowance allow hundreds of disabled people to stay in their own homes rather than be institutionalised.

The Sunday Telegraph quotes a government insider admitting “it is quite possible there will be cases of suicide” as a result. But after seeing how the police threw an obvious fragile and immobilized disabled man onto the street, they are too scared to protest outside Downing Street. They are forced to watch, helpless, while their support is taken away to pay for – as a Financial Times headline put it recently – Cameron and Osborne’s new “tax boost for wealthy heirs.” – Johann Hari

All of us have benefited from a long line of protests and rallies.  Every woman has the right to a vote, a bank account and a living of her own despite  her marital status thanks to the brave souls who fought tooth and nail against shocking injustice.  Every worker has the right to paid holiday, a minimum hourly rate of pay, a maximum number of working hours, paid maternity and paternity leave,and a host of other employment rights.  For these rights we have the social movements and protests to thank.  Without that bravery, where would we be now?  Women would still be the chattel of their fathers and husbands, no right to a job or her own money.  There would be no health service and no pensions for the elderly.  We would still be at the mercy of the wealthy minority and be subject to the whims of the rich who still dominate government.

“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.” – Oscar Wilde

We are not given to an excess of civil disobedience in Britain.  In fact, we are guilty of quite the opposite: unthinking acquiescence. Rather than take action, we are inclined to merely whinge amongst ourselves and do nothing, leaving our political voices in the ballot box when we have a right to both complain and get involved in order to make those changes.  I have joined my local party and aim to start making a difference to social awareness as soon as I am able.  For now I will leave you with a simple thought: From anger and mass disobedience comes progress; from silence comes stagnation.

Sources

Nick Clegg is a Liar and a Turn-Coat!


 

Liberal Democrat Campaign Image.

"That's why we are committed to scrapping tuition fees for full and part-time students, and improving access to apprenticeships so that everyone can get the best from their education."

 

A turncoat is a person who shifts allegiance from one loyalty or ideal to another, betraying or deserting an original cause by switching to the opposing side or party.  The election was in May, around the same time of course when A Level Students began to apply to universities and plan the next stage of their education.  Of course Mr Clegg was not elected but would not even be in the position he is if it were not for his deal with the Tories, but we can fairly expect him to stand by the agreed principles and policies of his party.  As deputy Prime Minister, he has a duty to his voters to abide by what he promised at least as far as he can.  Before the election Mr Clegg promised to scrap university fees entirely, listing,

  • Scrapping tuition fees for first Higher Education degree qualifications
  • Fully funding the off-the-job training costs of apprenticeships
  • Improving access to Higher Education for under-represented groups
  • Reforming the bursary scheme to make it available more fairly across universities

Underneath the coalition’s plans, there is an obvious and sickening agenda of drastic social change: not just the brutal cutting of public spending, but a decisive rolling-out of the market-obsessed, “choice”-fixated ideas that took root while Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, were revived and retooled once Tony Blair decided he had to define himself against the Labour party – and now look set to be taken to their logical conclusion by the Tories, and the like-minded Lib Dems who took their party into the coalition. Here lies another reason Wednesday’s events were so significant – for within the government’s plans for higher education lie not just the hiking-up of fees, but an entire reinvention of the very ethos of our universities, whereby the idea of education as a public good takes yet another kicking, and everything becomes down to “choice”, and whatever is meant to be good for ‘business’.

 

Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg: 'We had a policy before, that we now can't deliver.' Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

 

On, Wednesday, amidst a dull roar of the 50,000 strong crowd, massed outside, Clegg stumbled through his speech as if he really could not believe what he was saying either. “We have stuck to our ambition? Our wider ambition?”, “Our policy is more progressive?” (Hoots from all sides, including his own.) “The truth is before the election we didn’t know…”.  If you did NOT know, Mr Clegg, then why did you make those promises? Answer? To win the student votes! You would have to have been living in a box for two years to not realise the economic condition of this country, (and those who believed him and voted for it must have been with him) but to then march in with this piece of blatant social engineering is unforgivable.  Clegg also seemed to accuse some of his Lib Dem colleagues of having their heads in the sand in relation to tuition fees.  This will result in University education again ending up, a right to the privileged and prohibitively expensive to those from all but the wealthiest households.  This is certainly not a liberal move, and I should NOT have to point out (but I will) that countries in which the poorest are kept in their places by depriving them of education at any level either through cost or legislation, rarely thrive or are able to compete in the world market.

Before the election, he told us “there isn’t a serious economist in the world who agrees with the Conservatives…”

How can anybody defend gathering the votes of millions of people on a clear mandate of opposing these Tory proposals, and then – as soon as the door of power opens in your direction – championing each one of them?  How can we defend that same outright opposition being forgotten in favour of adopting their position of Lap-dog/whipping boy? This is hypocrisy to say the least.  Clegg enabled David Cameron, who got only 36% percent of the vote in Britain, to take the lead in Parliament, and even that percentage was on a promise that “we’re not talking about swinging cuts.”. Some 60% of us voted AGAINST the conservative party.  (Is this some form of sick revenge?)  During his campaign, Clegg promised he would “prioritise the interests of the poor.”  His agreement on these cuts will mean that the poor will not only be losing their job, but their homes too.  I wanted to believe in him at first but I am now very glad that I stuck by my instincts because I could see what would happen if either got in.  I do not feel betrayed but please allow me to feel indignant on behalf of those who do as we are ALL now stuck with both of them.

The report into higher education by the former chief executive of BP (says it all) was hailed by the government as setting its “strategic direction“, and thereby opened the way for the lifting of the cap on tuition fees so that Universities can charge what they like, and much more besides.  A recent YouGov survey commissioned by the Sun found that the public opposed the Browne proposals by 45% to 37%; and an ICM poll from around the same time offered the choice between raised fees and the far fairer option of a graduate tax, and found that people favoured the latter over the former by 61% to 29%.  While the population meekly accept the ‘need for austerity’, Ipsos Mori found that 59% of people agreed that there was “a need to cut public spending on public services” – the kind of statistic cited almost daily by those newspapers who, DO affect public opinion, by habitually encouraging the government to cut further, and faster.

 

Housing in Crisis Too.

“And what really matters? Thousands and thousands of families in just a few months facing debt, stress, eviction and homelessness.

“Weeping children, desperate mothers, defeated fathers. How dare we do this? It is carnage, carnage of our own people and we should be ashamed.” – Baroness Hollis of Heigham

The events at the protest is what turned it into a riot.  Throwing fire extinguishers off a tall building could kill somebody, and whatever thug did it should go to prison but most acted eloquently and passionately and peacefully.  Cameron complained that there were not enough police at the protest – but he is in the process of dramatically cutting police numbers (he’s a hypocrite too, but that’s another post).  Boris Johnson, the Conservative mayor, angrily condemned student violence – hoping we have forgotten that when he was a student, he and the Prime Minister were part of a gang of aristocrats called the Bullingdon Club.

It’s  illegal to damage property regardless of whether you can afford to pay for it.  Decent people call it vandalism and the fact the Bullingdon Club knew they could get away with being louts because they had money makes it worse.  They did it because they were rich louts, not because they believed in anything (other than the power their money afforded them).  They had no frustration or anger, they just felt like destroying things.  The same  way that they’re destroying the country now: because they feel like it.  The damage the protesters did is irrelevant compared with the thousands of lives the Tories are taking pleasure from destroying and a party whose members cheer at the announcement of 500,000 job losses does not deserve it’s position. They have consistently wept crocodile tears,  turning moist-eyed and saying it was “immoral” to “burden the next generation with higher debts.So, why, as a solution they have introduced a program that definitely will while conspicuously ignoring the glaringly obvious hypocrisy of gaping tax loopholes which allow the already wealthy to avoid paying their share and profit further from this carnage?  Why are they not demanding the banks pay back the money they were loaned? Because they really don’t care, that’s why and it was extremely foolish to trust these toffs (who believe bankers deserve a nice fat reward for clearing up their own mess) with our welfare.  People who kick others while they are already down, do not care about their well-being.

Clegg told Daybreak: “I should have been more careful perhaps in signing that pledge.

It was the greatest Liberal of the twentieth century, John Maynard Keynes, who explained definitively why this thinking (put a hold on everything including measures to boost economy) is wrong and in fact caused the Great Depression of the 1930s.   While we slip closer to another, we see Ireland is collapsing deeper and harder into depression because it did cut in this way and killed its economy.  The coalition is either doing this out of incompetence or they are trying to effect social and severe changes.  I fear it is a little of both.  If we are “bust” now, we have almost always been bust. Since 1750, our national debt has always been higher than it is now, except for two 40-year gaps.  The debt was more than twice this level in 1945, and we still built the NHS and secured decades of prosperity.  Johann Hari was the only journalist before the election who warned this would happen but David Cameron called it “black propaganda”, and snapped at a single mum who tried to challenge him about it at a public meeting that she should “run for office yourself” if she was so bothered.

 

Dionaea muscipula (Venus Flytrap) ready to spring!

 

Also, spare me the insincere sophistry of Mr Duncan Smith, who’s millionaire lifestyle and his odd ‘kind’ gesture seems to mask his true nature about as well as a Venus fly trap.  Can people stop looking up to money please?  It’s pathetic and it doesn’t produce better people, just richer ones.  Smith’s evil decisions, evident lack of compassion, and painful ignorance of the facts is triggering now an exodus of poor people from their communities.  It will force them to move away from their low-paid jobs in our great cities, and to move into concrete blocks of poverty in cheap-areas with pre-existing unemployment problems.  Housing is only cheap where there are no jobs! I am interested to know how Mr Smith believes his decisions will improve anything?  All it will do is force people into poorer areas, lead to overcrowding, and force them to commute long distances at great personal cost to keep their jobs negating any saving they make on their accommodation.   For a generation now, we have been whittling down our stock of council housing mostly under the Tories but under New Labour too. They were sold off, which was a good policy because it expanded home ownership but instead of investing the proceeds in building more council homes and affordable housing, they were frittered away on tax cuts for the wealthy.  The only viable and fair option now is to reinstate a program of house building, which would in turn generate employment but instead Con-Dem coalition has decided to cut house building to its lowest level in generations and stage mass evictions.

Clegg and his party were left under no illusion about the level of fury felt at the party’s U-turn as the National Union of Students (NUS) warned students would attempt to oust Lib Dem MPs who vote for a tuition fee hike by trying to force a by-election under proposed recall legislation in the constituencies of MPs who renege on a flagship manifesto promise to oppose any hike.

Today, the deputy PM defended the U-turn and insisted that the government’s policy would help generations of poor people go to university. I wonder how, when families stand to lose their homes stand to lose  their homes and much-needed help? The coalition’s cuts are barbaric and divisive.  As the population increases, and lives longer, our housing crisis will only increase and divide us further.  A one bedroom flat in London will fetch between £190k to £300!  This is a ridiculous price and it is therefore no wonder that so many need Housing benefit for rented properties.  It is beyond me why people had have skirted around the fact that most property is over priced and over valued by estate agents eager to make huge sales commissions and seller’s rates.

The applicants of Housing Benefit do not receive that money, the landlords which charge it do.  These landlords will charge up to the cap because they can, regardless of the standard of the property so the cost of housing has been artificially inflated (29% of new housing projects were deemed unfit for habitation AND we have NO room size standards in England and Wales.) by people making a living off investment buying and landlords charging whatever they think they can get away with. How about placing maximum rates that people can charge for certain size properties to stop people from being held to ransom over exorbitant accommodation prices? In the debate led by Baroness Hollis, demonstrated also that landlords are not compelled to accept tenants who rely on this benefit and only a tiny percentage do.  There are at least 5 or six applicants for each of the properties that are available.

 

Iain Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan Smith sneers at the view from a low standard housing block. Sorry it fails to meet your standards, but not all of us can afford to run million pound mansions but then YOU inherited that.

 

As Patrick Wintour and Randeep Ramesh report in the Guardian today, the proposals will include tough sanctions on Job-seeker’s allowance and those who refuse to work: these sanctions already exist.  It is understandable why people become disenchanted when employers do not even acknowledge that they have even received the application let alone, if  the post has been filled or why they were not right for the job.  I do think it should be a legal requirement to reply to applications, seeing as simple courtesy seems to be viewed as optional extra these days.  An application response letter would also add proof to the Job-seeker’s efforts in finding a job by giving them something to work on from even if it is only the reassuring thought that they have not been ignored.

“I was worried for the safety of people in the building because I know people who work in there, not just the Conservative Party but other offices as well,”

So Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg, it’s okay to destroy the lives of the thousands that you DON’T know, as long as the people that you DO know and share your politics (in your party) don’t get hurt by the desperation driven backlash.  Nick Clegg  finished his speech with a lavish tribute to Iain Duncan Smith. “He deserves enormous credit for the policy we are putting forward today,” Clegg said. Duncan Smith has “unrivalled expertise” in this area.  Merely passing the buck or more telling that it seems?

 

student protests

Students face police at Millbank tower, London, during the protest against tuition fees.

 

Conclusion?

We now know what’s coming: the deepest and quickest reductions in public spending since the 1920s – which, according to an under-reported quote from David Cameron, will not be reversed, even when (they wont) our economic circumstances improve.  Clegg, Cameron and other ministers get are dangerously close to reviving the nasty old trope of the ‘undeserving poor’.  As if to try to neutralise recent fretful noises from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Iain Duncan Smith talked about worklessness being a supposedly self-imposed “sin” (Does he know everyone’s circumstances then?).  Changes to housing benefit alone will detrimentally change this country for decades.  These moves will lead to, poverty, homelessness and yet more riots.

Wiping out another generation’s skills and abilities and limiting education to only those that can afford it is a recipe for regression. Only an idiot that thinks the Tories care about the middle-class any more than they do of the working-class and when the Tories have nothing left to kick and take from the working classes to support the rich and clear up the mess left by the banks, the middle will be the next target.  It is inane to blame all ‘Labourites’ (I hate that phrase. Particularly as it includes the supporters of the party who have no part in policy making.)  for the misdirection suffered under the New Labour experiment. It has been a failed experiment in some ways, many ways, but that does not mean for a nano second that we cannot regroup, and establish a better set of values that are more akin to the old Labour ones.

Sources.

The Con-Dems have gone too far!


“Today, the chancellor cited the backing of the International Monetary Fund and big business to underline his conviction in his decisions.

George Osborne

Pressed on what he would do if his strategy proved to have devastating consequences, Osborne made clear he intended to stay on course.”

More Conservative lies were imminent after George Osborne’s savage public spending cuts.  Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, has argued that the Conservative party has not imposed their will over their own party and that the budget has been a joint decision.  On BBC Breakfast he stated;

“What you will see today is all the things that we had as our priorities in the election reflected in the statement, you will see the fairness for the next generation, which is why there is much more investment for the under-fives and the poorer families at school,”

I fail to see fairness in a system which allows a household with joint income of nearly £88,000 to keep their child benefit, yet cuts the same benefit from a family with a single income of half of that.  I fail to see the fairness in a system which cuts council budgets and then condemns the opposition governments, via a flyer published before the cuts announcements and circulated on the same day, for ‘possibly’ cutting services they can no longer afford to run. The benefits and services that will be cut are chosen in order to enact ideological political manoeuvres, rather than moving through legitimate, but time-consuming, campaigning, petition and legislation.  In short, they are bypassing standard procedure but cutting budgets in order to make regressive changes and use their best friend, the Deficit, as an excuse.   The Tories have wanted to dismantle the welfare state for more than sixty years.  Now they can do while shedding crocodile tears and they have the Lib-Dems on side.

“The most striking of the new cuts announced yesterday was a package of £7bn in extra welfare cuts on top of the £11bn already made in the last budget. This will include the withdrawal of £50 a week from the 1 million people who have been claiming incapacity benefit for more than a year.”

In a vacuous attempt to sweeten the medicine we are being given to cure the problems caused by the banks and the high-flyers in the City, Nick Clegg has announced a £7 billion investment (into where?) over the same 4 years, including a pupil premium for 1 million disadvantaged children (what about the others?) saying it was an investment in the future even if this makes the present harder.  This also does not add up, and I believe is a needless distraction from what the true cost to society that these cuts will be.   This promise has come in the same week that the Liberal democrats have had to renege on their promise to abolish tuition fees; they have actually been raised to make up for the cut on places.  The premium is a complete waste of money.  If the coalition were not hell been on the privatisation of our schools system, then the need to bribe academies to take on poor kids would be superfluous.  They know that the admissions codes will not be upheld as these academies will even be entitled to select students on the basis of their parents’ religion.

“What we want to do is to make sure that as few people in the public sector lose their jobs. That is why we are negotiating now with the public sector unions and with those who work in so many of the services on which we depend, in order to ensure, for example, that pay can be frozen in such a way that we can minimise job losses. I don’t think any of us would like to see anyone lose their job.” – Michael Gove to the BBC

The announcements yesterday estimated public sector job losses of around 500,000 over four years, and the hardest hit to be the Department of Work and Pensions, and the Ministry of Justice with a 25% cut to their budget.  Add to this cuts in university funding and reduction in places, ‘reforms’ to public housing budgets and yet more cuts to the welfare system. However the government has NOT stopped borrowing money.  Last month the coalition borrowed £16.2 billion, a record high for a September.  These cuts will damage the recovery of our economy by costing people their jobs and forcing them onto job-seekers allowance which will stop after a year.  Bear in mind that there are those who were made redundant in 2008 who still have not been able to find work. Bill that would result from the collective redundancy payments and new benefits claims could well negate any savings made by the welfare budget cuts or even exceed them.

“Labour however denounced the government’s “slash and burn” strategy while the IFS said his measures were “regressive”, hitting the poor harder than the rich.”

I am with Ed Milliband in disagreeing that there are no alternatives for these cuts.  Mr Darling’s plan was to halve the deficit by exponentially increasing taxation to those who could afford it rather than cutting public spending and costing valuable services.  It is clear that in the eyes of the elitist and wealthy Tories and liberals, our public services are an irrelevant luxury for the undeserving.  If ever they could be making a point of putting the people ‘back in their place‘, this is it.  Forget ‘we’re all in this together‘, as Cameron so fatuously sloganised his election campaign, what he meant is that he plans to look after the rich (responsible for the financial crisis) while the rest of us are on our own. Westminster does understand the difficulties this will cause, the point of fact is that they just don’t care when the people suffering are not the ones with enough political clout to stop them.

“What the government should be doing is putting in place a plan to reduce the deficit but also to protect growth and jobs in our country. What I fear we are going to hear today is an irresponsible gamble with our economy and indeed many of the frontline services that people rely on in our communities. There is an alternative, there is a different way, but I fear that what the government is going to do is take an irresponsible gamble with our nation’s economy.” Ed Milliband.

Chancellor George Osborne and chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander

He added: “People will be very fearful about what is being announced today – fearful for their jobs and fearful for many of the services that they rely on up and down the country.”

Some councils may see their overall annual budgets cut by 20% overnight.  With the so-called ‘Big society’ outlook and councils being ‘granted’ more localised autonomy, it means that many district councils will be left to look for budget cut backs and expected to make up the shortfall in other ways.  It will also mean that many councils will be forced to chase people for money and then be blamed for unpopular decisions.  One thing is for sure; nobody who either voted Liberal or Tory (or abstained from the electoral process altogether) has any business complaining now about decisions that they knew were coming.  They got what they asked for.  For towns like Consett, which lost their steel industry thanks to a Tory manufactured recession in the 1980s, the outlook is bleak.

Labour created public sector jobs to revive those areas and now almost 46% of their budget is spent on salaries. Libraries, bus routes, rubbish collections, leisure centres and care facilities for the elderly and disabled (which are the most expensive proportion of public spending) also stand to face job losses due to cut backs.  Cuts in the care budgets will mean both a severe drop in their quality of care and in their quality of life.  This will have a dual effect.  As people are concerned about their prospects over the coming months, they are likely to spend less which in turn will have a negative knock on effect to the private sector and ultimately on VAT revenue.

“Osborne announced sweeping cuts to welfare, higher education, social housing, policing and local government that will axe £81bn from government spending and draw the country back “from the brink of bankruptcy”.”

The most vulnerable will be the hardest hit as the wealthy don’t generally tend to rely on public transport or public leisure facilities like libraries.  In the previous recession it was our industry which died and we were forced  to become a services and retail dominated economy.  Now it is the civil servants who will suffer in the same needless fashion. Even with the huge number of people working for the government and councils across the country, a lot of what they spend is with private companies and outsourced labour for services such as waste collection and basic supplies.  If care positions are lost, then private companies will be left to take up the slack (the labour requirements will not fall) and this will eventually privatise those services while paying their staff minimum wage.  The tragedy lies in the fact that these people are going to lose their jobs through no fault of their own and the older workforce will have an even greater problem finding new work.

“It is unlikely that the Bank will do enough, quickly enough to prevent the economy tanking next year. If that happens, Osborne will get the blame as the hissing becomes deafening.”

The legacy of the steel and mining industries is a large number of pensioners and disabled people with serious respiratory problems.  These automatic incapacity payments will stop after a year and then be means tested. Changes will be disproportionate due to Osborne’s decision to reform disability living allowances.  The cancellation to the Future Jobs Fund (supported  job training to disadvantaged school leavers) has already been dealt a blow, severely reducing the number of youngsters that the YMCA can assist.  Staff at the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (giving free legal and financial advice to people who cannot afford to employ solicitors and accountants) also face uncertainty.  There is no telling where or not these jobs can be saved or not.

Big Society is a big con.  They are cutting public funding while expecting the voluntary sector to step in and continue the work.  This will fail, especially if spending to voluntary sector is also rolled back, limiting the help they can provide.  The Coalition have falsely promoted an idea that councils have deliberately accumulated high levels of waste on administration with jobs that can be cut painlessly.  There is no such thing as a painless recession especially when those who caused the financial crisis will feel no ill-effects whatsoever.  We are well on the way to another Tory manufactured recession.  One of the most revealing statements from Mr Osborne is that he regrets making these changes against the ‘backdrop’ of the deficit.  I equate this to mean that they would have made these changes regardless of the state of the economy.

“The chancellor made it clear yesterday that he would “stick to the course”, with no changes to his fiscal plans whatever the state of the economy. This is dogmatic, foolish and – in the third big gamble – puts enormous pressure on the Bank of England to provide the necessary monetary stimulus should growth suffer as the spending restraint bites.”

It seems remarkable that despite these brutal but ‘necessary’ cut-backs which will hit the worst off, and the nice easy excuse of the ‘deficit’ we can still afford to subsidise faith groups.  The BHA has criticised the decision to fund Interfaith Week.  There is little need to continually subsidise these groups from public funds and no evidence that it is required over and above that which is already granted to groups in the voluntary sector.  Labour spent a huge amount on faith groups over the course of their term in government, in an attempt to resolve interfaith disputes.  It is vital that where public services can be saved, resources are available according to need and based on the group’s ability to provide a service to a whole community and not based on religious bias.

“In an answer to a written Parliamentary question last week, Baroness Hanham, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, confirmed that they would again be funding ‘Interfaith Week’ in November and will continue with a grant scheme that is open only to groups working on ‘interfaith’ issues.”

 

Sources