Comment: George Osborne has no idea what these cuts will mean to people

Expect cuts to public services and further slashing of support for the vulnerable


Make no mistake, the Spending Review declared by the chancellor today will be about ideology, not an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future.

From cuts to public services and further slashing of support for the vulnerable, it will be a further step towards the planned ‘small-state Britain’ – with only around 36 per cent of GDP being used for government spending by 2020, a figure lower than that in the US.

This is supposed to kick-start the private sector, yet investment is low, productivity and pay aren’t increasing, and the deficit is nowhere near forecasts. Small and medium-sized enterprises, the backbone of the economy, are struggling for survival in a political climate that favours the multinational giants.

And the essential investment in renewable energy and warm, comfortable, affordable to heat homes isn’t happening. With winter settling again, the tragedy, the shame, of excess winter deaths, will again start.

This looks nothing like a sustainable economy that’s delivering for the common good.

There’s a good chance we’ll hear the Tory mantra that ‘we are all in it together’, especially when Osborne returns for a second attempt to make changes to working tax credits. If housing benefits are hit, homelessness will soar – and councils will be left trying to carry the weight with already impossible budgets.

We’ll hear the claim that employment is on the rise, however, a significant chunk of this represents insecure jobs such as zero-hours contracts. And many workers are struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their head.

Of course, Osborne could help those people whose budgets are being squeezed by introducing a genuine Living Wage. Unfortunately the new Wage of £7.20 per hour being introduced next April falls well short of the real living wage, calculated at £8.25 per hour and £9.40 in London by the Living Wage Foundation.

Yesterday’s government announcement that front-line NHS services in England will get a £3.8bn, above-inflation cash injection next year is largely a re-announcement of existing funding.

This £3.8 billion is being handed to the NHS next year, as part of the Tory’s original promise to give the NHS an extra £8bn a year by 2020. On this commitment, the health policy charity Kings Fund said:

“This is the absolute minimum requirement to maintain standards of care. It will not pay for new commitments such as seven day services”.

Moreover, this £3.8 billion doesn’t seem to generous when we consider that local frontline services such as social care, stop-smoking services, and sexual health are still going to suffer from cuts to local governments, who are already struggling to cope. Cuts to these frontline services will put the NHS under even more pressure in the years to come.

Any nod made by Osborne on tax avoidance should be taken with a pinch of salt. His government’s commitment to tackling it now lies in tatters with 11,000 full-time staff posts already cut at Revenue & Customs since 2010.

Without these jobs, the UK’s ability to crack down on tax evasion is seriously weakened and most likely ensures that we miss out on vast sums of money that could be used to improve schools and hospitals.

Unlike the chancellor, the Green Party knows the importance of further education. Colleges educate and train 2.9 million people in England, they train half of all construction, engineering and manufacturing apprentices and 71,000 16 to 18-year-olds undertake an apprenticeship through colleges.

We want George Osborne to adopt the Green Party’s policy in restoring the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16 and 17-year-olds and we would prioritise training in the skills needed to build a low-carbon economy.

Politicians, journalists and economists will spend the coming days deciphering what the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review will mean for people in the UK.

That’s the right thing to do because I don’t expect this government to be upfront about, or have any real understanding, of what these cuts will mean for the communities and households across the country.

Natalie Bennett is the leader of the Green Party. Follow her on Twitter

10 Responses to “Comment: George Osborne has no idea what these cuts will mean to people”

  1. stephen bellamy

    I knew if I looked hard enough I would find some kinder gentler politics.

  2. Silvia Vousden

    Mrs Bennett in this article is absolutely spot on. Osbourne and Cameron have NO IDEA how to construct a sustainable economy that benefits the vast majority of the population, and insist on discredited austerity policies that are entirely unnecessary for the UK, in fact, these policies are actually harming the economy.

  3. Richard Puller

    Do I need to explain this one..?

  4. Intolerant_Liberal

    ‘With winter settling again, the tragedy, the shame, of excess winter deaths, will again start.’
    But, don’t worry, they are only old poor working class people who have ceased to be useful as cheap labour, or cannon fodder in the rich and elite’s war over oil, so who cares???

  5. Intolerant_Liberal

    They are very very good at creating economies that are actively and cruelly and purposely destroying the poor and marginalised and making their lives even worse, and getting a complicit media to point fingers at those on benefits and avoid blaming the rich tax dodgers and the bankers and others who make things better for themselves by making things worse for many others.
    The problem is, they have now turned on the hard working, the police, nurses, teachers, junior doctors, the North of England, Scotland, Wales, the West Country, Northern Ireland, and like Charles the 1st long ago, they seem to be alienating everyone and anyone who isn’t posh, rich and connected like them. The cracks in this incompetent government are beginning to become too BIG to ignore, and it seems to limp on like a fatally wounded and completely deluded soldier, when everyone else has seen the light and put down their guns. This government is even worse than the previous Tory one under Thatcher. She at least had principles. They were all wrong, but she had some idea of what she wanted to do. This present incumbent bunch are for sale to the highest
    bidder, and not much more.
    They are actively destroying the chances of anyone not rich from moving on in life. That will destroy this government, sooner or later. And not before time.

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