On 20th October I went on my first march ever, aged 43 – A Future That Works in London – to demonstrate against the cuts. Bit late you might say, well yes, but up until the financial crash of 2008, I had sort of assumed that those in power knew what they were doing. The last four years has shown this is clearly not the case, as politicians and organisations such as the Bank of England, struggle to explain and contain the credit crunch.
Their solution has been to shore up the banks – too big to fail – by buying them with taxpayers money, and print money to pump into the system – quantative easing – that just swills around in the banks and stock market rather than being passed on as lending as hoped. At the same time they’ve cut back on public jobs, public pay, government spending, investment in education, transport and infrastructure, and started to privatise the NHS. At the same time they’ve raised VAT for all, but cut taxes for the wealthy, taking the 50% top rate rate down to 45% for the highest earners.
This government inherently believes in helping the rich to stay rich because they are wealth creators who spread their money around further than the poor. In fact, the opposite is true – people on low incomes tend to spend every penny they have, because they need to. And when the spend this money it’s more likely to go into the local economy, which has a multiplying effect as it circulates locally making it worth triple its face value.
And there is more pain to come – Osborne is planning to cut a further £16billion during 2015-16. That’s on top of the £18billion in savings set in motion in 2010. The planned universal credit being introduced next year, which merges benefits and tax credits, means that 450,000 disabled people will lose up to £58 a week, meaning many such families are likely to struggle to pay for basic essentials such as food and heating. 1 in 10 of these families may well end up losing their home because of this cut.
Benefit cuts will also hit councils as the low-paid will no longer receive assistance to pay their council tax from 2013. Councils have already realised there will be no point chasing these people for money as it will cost more than they owe. So the councils will receive less money, meaning they’ll have to cut local services, which will affect the local communities. That’s a double whammy if ever I heard of one.
These are just two example of effect the coalition’s cuts are having on the weakest in society.
But, what really rubs salt into the wound of taking money from the poor, is that Osborne’s Plan A isn’t reducing the deficit or ending the recession. This cost-cutting hasn’t worked. According to the IMF, this austerity programme will have taken £76billion more out of the economy by 2015 than Osborne predicted. The Chancellor believed that for each £1 of cuts he introduced it would cut economic output by 50. Instead it is reducing output by 90p-£1.70. This is why the UK had a double-dip recession in 2012.
And what about the future of this country and its workers of tomorrow? Unemployment among graduates is at 1 in 12, with many of those in work doing ‘non-graduate’ jobs, presumably taking them from non-graduates, where unemployment among 16-24-year-olds currently stands at 957,000.
The government is not investing in this country’s future. The time has come to stop the cuts and invest in jobs, technology and education instead. One area to focus on would be the creation of climate jobs – green business grew by 4.7% from 2010-11, providing an extra £5.4bn of economic activity, but we should lso focus on manufacturing, so as a country we’re not so reliant on the financial and service sectors for our economic health.
So, if you’re angry about austerity now, here’s what you can do:
1 Join the anti-cuts protest – A Future That Works – online.
2 Support the national Coalition of Resistance, an organsation that opposes the Con-Den cuts, supported by Unite and other Trade Unions, the National Pensioners Convention, Keep our NHS Public, the Green Party People’s Charter, UK Uncut, BARAC (Black People Rising Against Cuts), DPAC (Disable People Against Cuts), Queers Against the Cuts and many others, by signing their petition.
2 Sign the petition for Fairer Tax to introduce a mansion tax for properties worth over £2million, that could potentially raise over £2billion.
3 Support 38 Degrees action campaign against NHS cuts.
It’s time to take action, not stay apathetic.