This week the Chancellor performed his usual sleight of hand show. Surrounded by evidence that the economic recovery is on shaky ground and the future very much uncertain he rolled out the phrase “long term economic plan” and a few tax adjustments and made things seem nice and rosy.
Of course by his own measures the Chancellor has completely failed. In 2010 he promised to clear the deficit by 2015, today he says it will be done by 2020. The Prime Minister often likes to talk about “paying down Britain’s debt” and yet the debt has risen dramatically to over one and a half trillion pounds. The Conservative’s whole offer to the country was short term pain for long term prosperity, but there seems to be no end in sight of the pain they are inflicting.
The headlines were of course grabbed by tax changes. The large cut to Corporation Tax for big businesses standing out as one of the major changes of this budget. If we still have a deficit, the economy is growing slower than expected, and tax cuts are being offered, then where is all the money coming from?
Public services have been hit hard, over and over again, in the last six years. Local Councils have seen their budgets reduced year on year and most Government departments have been slashed. This week’s budget means that more of the same is on the way.
Positive Labour Schemes like Building Schools for the Future, the Future Jobs Fund and the Regional Development Agencies were all victims of the cuts in the early days of the Tory/Lib Dem Coalition despite the long term positive impacts these schemes would have.
When Bolton’s Libraries closed, when the Police can’t come out to see you after you report a crime, when we’re told Bolton can’t have a walk-in centre; these are all because of decisions made by George Osborne. This is the impact of making cuts the number one priority over long term investments in growth.
Mental health services, A&E, social care, child protection, supported housing; the list of vital public services hurt by the cuts goes on and on and his failure to deliver on his promises mean all that was just the start.
We know from the comprehensive spending review that we have at least another five years of cuts on the way and the figures from the budget show that by the end of this Parliament the Chancellor will need to find yet another £3.5bn worth of cuts by 2020. More cuts, more services closed, more people who can’t find the help that they need.
The Tories have created a low-wage, low-growth economy, with the gap between the top and the bottom getting ever larger. Millionaires have seen their wealth continue to grow since the recession while other have found themselves homeless, reliant on foodbanks, desperate for a little assistance just to get on with life as best they can and unable to find it.
In his speech on Wednesday the Chancellor referred to doing this for the next generation, but by consistently undermining and removing social support structures he is actively harming this generation and leaving it to the next to deal with the consequences.