The Public Spending Review announced by Chancellor George Osborne today (June 26th) sets out the Government’s plans for the economy up to and beyond the 2015 General Election. “This is more of the same, but worse,” Pete McLaren, Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) spokesperson, told us immediately after the announcement. "The Tory/Lib Dem government is imposing £11.5 billion of further cuts to recently decimated public services.
“These 'Savings' will mean
• Drastic cuts to all the services provided by local Councils like Rugby and Warwickshire with the announced 10% cut to the Communities budget
• A similar level of cuts to those public services administered by the Government - 10% cut to the Ministry of Justice; 10% cut to the Department of Work and Pensions; 10% to the Department of the Environment; 9% cut in Transport; 8% to the Department of Energy and Climate Change; 7% cut to Culture and Media; 5% to the Department of Museums, Community Sports and Arts
• Pay cuts to largely low paid public sector workers with the announcements of maximum pay rises of 1% with inflation running at 3%, and the ending of automatic progression in pay
• A massive additional cut of £4 billion to welfare payments with a series of measures including a new welfare cap for the system as a whole, to be set each year for 4 years, despite rising unemployment, and a '7 day wait' before new claimants can even 'sign on' for benefits. How can you live without any money?
• Further privatisation of education with money somehow being found for more Academies and Free Schools
"The effect of these cuts, on top of those that have already closed youth clubs, libraries, care homes and fire stations, will be to further take away the public services those who need them have grown to rely on and enjoy - including museums, sports facilities, and public transport. Cuts in provision for investigating climate change and environmental improvements fly in the face of creating the greener world we were all promised and strive for. For those who work in the public sector there will be massive job cuts and redundancies, and those fortunate enough to keep their jobs will face pay cuts. Those who are forced to rely on poverty level welfare benefits will suffer even more, if that is possible. These cuts are a disgrace.
"George Osborne began his Public Spending Review speech by repeating his lie that "We are all in this together." How can we be when, in terms of public services lost, the TUC estimates that the poorest 10% will suffer 15 times more than the richest as they have greater need for such services? Even the Institute of Fiscal Studies says the impact of tax and benefit changes reduces the incomes of lower income households by more than that of higher income families, with the biggest losers being the poorest 10% of families with children. It is no accident that the rich are getting richer whilst the rest of us are made to pay for the crisis - the collective wealth of this year’s 1,000 richest people has reached £450 billion, the highest on record, with the top 200 now worth £318 billion, an increase of 8.5% compared to 2012. We are most certainly not in this together.
“The Tories are making these and other severe cuts, with the support of both the Lib Dems and the Labour so-called Opposition, despite knowing that their austerity policies are simply not working. In the last three years, unemployment has risen to 7.8%, with youth unemployment scandalously standing at over one million. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has fallen by 2.8% since 2008. Inflation, at 2.8%, continues to outstrip wage rises which averaged 0.8% in the last year. Austerity measures have actually prevented the economy from growing, thus making it harder to reduce the economic deficit. .
“It is an absolute disgrace that Labour will not be opposing such attacks on the poor and ordinary working people. Addressing the Labour Party National policy Forum in Birmingham on Saturday, Ed Milliband promised to be ruthless about pursuing Labour’s public spending priorities, accepting the need for further cuts beyond the 2015 General Election. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls had earlier committed Labour to keeping George Osborne’s spending cuts if it wins that Election.
“Spending cuts are not necessary, as Labour well knows,” Pete McLaren continued. “A 5% wealth tax on the richest 10% would, on its own, resolve the economic deficit. There is also £120 billion per year of unpaid tax that rich individuals or companies avoid or evade. Banks could be nationalized, with profits used to maintain and improve our public services. To cut public spending is a political decision by right wing governments to attack services won for and by the working class,” he concluded.
• Rugby TUSC was set up in March 2011. It is part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition nationally - www.tusc.org.uk
• Rugby TUSC can be contacted on 07881 520626 or RugbyTUSC@gmail.com; PO Box 4123 Rugby CV21 9BJ
• Rugby TUSC stood anti cuts candidates across the whole of Rugby in this year’s County Council elections
• Pete McLaren is a member of the TUSC National Steering Committee, and has just been elected its Local Group Development Officer