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(Please note: This is a first-glance appraisal; it may contain inaccuracies, gloss over parts that you find important or miss things out entirely. Feel free to mention anything you feel important in the ‘Comments’ column)
In May 2010, the Conservatives asked us to judge them by two yardsticks. The first was that they would cut the deficit – completely – by the 2015 election. The second was that they would protect the National Health Service.
We all know what they did to the National Health Service, and everybody living in England who must now rely on a now-corrupted and degenerate system has my complete and utter sympathy.
Now we know that they have completely failed with the other measure as well. The deficit will not be eliminated by 2015 and the national debt is unlikely to be falling.
That was the main message from
Gideon George Osborne in his Autumn Statement as Chancellor of the Exchequer. The announcement adds validity to predictions that the UK will soon lose its AAA credit rating.
Estimates for government borrowing over the course of this Parliament have – of course – risen and it is now estimated that the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition will borrow £212 billion more than stated after the 2010 general election.
Austerity is therefore likely to continue until 2018 and the deficit in 2015 – when it was supposed to reach zero – is now expected to be £73 billion. The message here is that the government will eliminate the deficit in five years’ time.
Wait a minute! Isn’t that what Gideon said in 2010? Have we been taking welfare cut after welfare cut, pay cut after pay cut, attacks on public sector pensions and cuts to economic investment for two and a half years, only to be told that we have been standing still?
This is not just incompetence; it is endangerment. This government is harmful to the UK economy. International readers should note that this entails a knock-on effect, dragging the world backwards as well. You are all endangered by this disaster.
It’s also a breach of a Conservative manifesto promise from 2010 – thanks to the BBC’s Paul Mason for this snippet.
Let’s have a look at the growth forecast from the Office of Budget Irresponsibility. You may recall that in 2012 the economy was initially expected to grow by 2.8 per cent. Don’t laugh! Now the OBR has downgraded that, by a massive 2.9 per cent, to show a contraction of 0.1 per cent. We’re expected to go back into recession for a TRIPLE-dip.
It’s supposed to be the economy,
Gideon! Not a rollercoaster ride!
He blames the woes of the Eurozone countries, even though I am reliably informed that it has been comprehensively proven that our economic woes are NOT in major part due to the Eurozone.
So what’s going to happen? Well, millionaires are going to get a tax cut. That’ll help, won’t it? £3 billion, going to the people who need it the least, as Ed Balls said in his response to the Statement.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the 1,000 richest people in the UK are now worth a total of £414 billion – up £155 billion in the last three years. If you were wondering where the money that could stabilise our economy has gone, wonder no more.
What about taxing businesses? We know that the biggest corporations have been hiding their cash in tax havens – is Osborne doing anything about that?
Apparently he is. He’s planning to close tax loopholes and he’s bringing in 2,000 more HM Revenue and Customs staff to do it. Let’s just remind ourselves that he cut HMRC by 15,000 a little while ago.
In the meantime, we have Corporation Tax – is he increasing it? No. He’s cutting it by a further 1 per cent. This means that this tax has been cut by a quarter – 25 per cent – since the Coalition came into power in 2010. And he still can’t get firms to pay up!
Incidentally, Osborne would like us to believe Corporation Tax is keeping the economy weak. However, the US rate is 40 per cent and the economy there is growing.
Where’s the business investment bank we were promised?
Oh! Here’s something: tax relief on pensions slashed for the very high earners. £1 billion expected revenue. Be still, my beating heart.
So: tax cuts for the rich. What do the poor get?
The rise in working-age benefits will be frozen to 1 per cent for the next three years. RPI inflation is currently 3.2 per cent. This means the poor will get six per cent poorer over that period. The Liberal Democrats were crowing about defending inflation-related increases to benefits last year; I notice they have nothing to say today.
The majority of people losing from cuts to tax credits will be people in work.
Disabled people were no doubt completely unsurprised when Osborne wheeled out his tired old line about working people looking at their neighbours’ closed curtains during the ‘scrounger-bashing’ segment of the speech. Let’s all bear in mind that sickness benefit fraud is 0.4 per cent while the government is eliminating 20 per cent of claimants from the welfare bill. That’s 19.6 per cent of claimants who deserve the cash, even if the fraudsters are caught and weeded out (and they probably won’t be).
Disability benefits will be exempt from the freeze, he said, trying to make it seem that the disabled won’t take a hit. This was a lie. Employment and Support Allowance will be affected, and since two-thirds of those who claim ESA long-term are also on the disability benefit, DLA, those most disabled will be hit the hardest.
Scrapping the worse-than-useless Work Programme and Universal Credit would save more than £10 billion, but apparently this won’t happen for fear of upsetting Iain Duncan Smith. As Ed Balls pointed out, though, “You can’t have a successful Welfare to Work programme without work!”
Child benefit remains frozen at the moment, but will increase from 2014. We all know why, I hope. Electioneering. Osborne is hoping that families with (two or fewer) children will support the Tories in the 2015 elections, because of this increase. Pathetic. And anyone who falls for it will be even worse.
Hardly any new infrastructure projects were announced; no new road schemes, no new housing schemes. There’s no repeat of the bankers’ bonus tax.
I could go on and on. You’ll probably hear more about the Statement than Kate’s baby over the next day or so, though; therefore I’ll stop.
One last point: Osborne’s 1.2 million figure for new private sector jobs is a complete fiddle. He is including jobs that have been reclassified from the public to the private sector, also part time jobs and people on the work programme/Workfare, who are working for no pay other than Jobseekers’ Allowance.
Oh, and the government’s borrowing figures may have been fiddled as well; according to Andrew Neil on the BBC it could be £56 billion higher than claimed, by 2017-18.
In March, we had Pasty-gate the day after the Budget Statement. I wonder what we’ll have tomorrow?