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Official figures have been revised to show the UK economy contracted by less than thought in the second quarter of 2012. Apparently the recession only deepened by 0.4 per cent, rather than the 0.5 per cent to which it was revised last month. The original estimate was 0.7 per cent.
It’s a far cry from original Office of Budget Irresponsibility estimates for 2012, which had the economy growing (if you can believe it) by 2.5 per cent during the year. Instead it has contracted by around 1 per cent. That’s a huge error margin – around 1/28 of GDP.
And it’s a far cry from what the Coalition were predicting in 2010, when public sector job losses were going to be offset by a huge inrush of private sector jobs that never came. David Cameron can swan off to New York (incidentally avoiding the reappearance of his friend Rebekah Brooks in court) and talk about a million jobs being created, but that doesn’t even begin to cover the harm that his austerity measures have perpetuated.
And of course it means that we’re all still in the longest double-dip recession since the end of World War II, thanks to the Coalition – they can blame Labour all they want, but the figures tell the truth: GDP started dropping after the Tories and the Liberal Democrats took the reins of power.
What does this mean for the less well-off in society? Well, it’s obvious…
Continued recession means that there will be less tax money available to the Treasury (and there’s still no real effort being made to track down those tens – maybe hundreds – of billions being kept away by tax avoidance).
This will allow Messrs Cameron, Osborne et al to continue their persecution of the poorest in society – those who had nothing to do with the causes of the recession – and their programme of rewards for those who made this possible – the bankers and financiers who did dump us all in it.
So we will see further deep cuts in the welfare budget. More sick and disabled people will be driven to suicide. We have already seen news stories in which it has been admitted that failed ESA claimants have ended up destitute – expect many more in the future.
The Universal Credit will come in, capping the amount of benefit families will be able to receive and ensuring that they are plunged into poverty, through no fault of their own.
The Localism Bill will come in, forcing councils to create council tax relief schemes that will force the lowest-paid in society out of their homes to search for accommodation in less “attractive” parts of the UK – if they can find anywhere at all.
And as I’m typing this, in the back of my mind I can hear Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, whose coalition with the Conservatives has made all this possible, saying: “Only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted with the economy and relied upon to deliver a fairer society too.”
And that’s the funny part!