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Tory Austerity: a Despicable Budget by a Despicable Government

“A Despicable Budget from a Despicable Government,” remarked public service union leader Mark Serwotka on hearing of Wednesday’s glum news in Great Britain. His response was a call for united industrial action to resist the Tories continuing attacks on our pockets, and on our unions right to take strike action.

Unison the union’s “Austerity Audit” recently demonstrated how an unbelievable 40% of funding has been ripped from the funding of local Councils over the last five years. While the book Breadline Britain: The Rise of Mass Poverty (2015) shows how in 1983 just over a third of those in deprivation poverty (lacking three or more necessities) were in a household where the ‘head’ was in full-time or part-time work. Today the equivalent figure is just above sixty percent.

Tax expert Richard Murphy has pointed out how Mr Osborne’s announced cut in corporation tax, will mean that “multinational companies now have a lower tax rate than those earning a little over £11,000 a year in the UK.” While the Daily Mirror reported how 26,000 wealthy families will get £2.5 billion over the next fours as a result of cuts to inheritance tax.

First and foremost George Osborne’s Tory budget ‘update’ represents a massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, with £4.5 billion slashed from working tax credits this year alone. Millions will be left reeling; and certainly any gains connected to increasing the minimum wage for those over 25 will be swiftly undermined by the removal of working tax credits, leaving already poor people worse off than before their so-called pay rises.

Tax credit cuts “will hit 3 million families… taking money from cleaners, care workers and supermarket checkout staff” explained Guardian journalist Seumas Milne. Importantly he then added that “the prostrate state of the official opposition” is giving the Tories some respite. Labour’s acting leader, Harriet Harman, bizarrely (although entirely predictably) “assured the chancellor that her party would be ‘grown up and constructive” and was in fact up for all manner of cuts itself.”

Mr Osborne cynically says that “Britain needs a pay rise.” But the one good thing that will come of his rhetorical commitment to increasing the minimum wage (for those over twenty-five) is his admission that paying low paid workers more money actually provides a boost to the economy. This should give further economic weight to the union-backed campaign to immediately raise the minimum wage to £10-a-hour right now for all workers!

 

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Michael Barker is the author of Under the Mask of Philanthropy (2017).

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