Gideon George Osborne will spend the next few days (if not weeks and months) crowing about the figures from the Office for National Statistics that say the British economy has grown for a third successive quarter.
He has already tweeted, “This shows that Britain’s hard work is paying off & the country is on the path to prosperity.”
The construction industry has grown by 2.5 per cent on the previous quarter, with house builders buoyed up by Gideon’s Help to Buy scheme, which offers (unsupported) mortgage guarantees to buyers and lenders. He has promised to divert £12 million to this, but has not said where he will find the money.
Critics have warned that this is simply creating another housing-fuelled debt bubble that will burst in a couple of years’ time, leaving even more people in debt than after the financial crisis hit us all.
Has this growth generated work for electricians, plumbers, plasterers, roofers? If so, are they being paid fairly? These are the people who will take their disposable income back into the wider economy, for the benefit of other businesses.
Production (including manufacturing) and services are both on the up as well. The BBC report says nothing about retail. But if this good news is true, why is the Department for Work and Pensions determined to expand its Workfare scheme, as laid out in a Conservative conference announcement and by an article reblogged here.
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls welcomed the signs of growth in the ONS report but warned: “For millions of people across the country still seeing prices rising faster than their wages, this is no recovery at all.”
He is right, of course. Look at the rise and rise of food banks, which have seen a massive rise in attendances from even working people – whose wages simply don’t cover the cost of living. Benefits are, of course, being cut back by our “compassionate” Conservative-led government.
They say there’s no money for it but – if the economy is surging back into growth – where are all the tax receipts from the big corporates that are profiting?
Oh yes – they’re safely closeted in the tax havens that Mr Osborne kindly opened up for them. Ordinary, working, and poor people have to use their own limited funds to pay off a Conservative-run national deficit, presumably because Tories think the rich, who caused the problem, shouldn’t have to pay for services they don’t use.
And the Institute of Directors’ chief economist, Graeme Leach, warned that there are “strong headwinds” restricting the possibility of further growth, including “debt and inflation” which are “rising faster than earnings”.
That’s right. Only yesterday, Yr Obdt Srvt was talking with a gentleman who – despite having a full-time job – has fallen so severely into debt that he has had to cut his expenditure down to nothing but taxes, the vital utility bills (water but not heating), and rent. He has no budget for food and faces the possibility of having his belongings, such as his car, repossessed – and even eviction.
Is he on the path to prosperity, Mr Osborne? Of course not. This report is merely further proof that you were lying when you said, “We’re all in it together” – as you did (again) at the Conservative conference.
It’s prosperity for the greedy few, and austerity for the rest of us.
Maybe you have a different opinion, but ask any average worker on the street and they will tell you that continued wage depression and price inflation, the expansion of the Workfare regime that gives free employment to firms that don’t need it while the workers themselves have to survive on benefits, massive growth in food bank use, and the threat faced by thousands of eviction and the repossession of their belongings are not milestones on the path to prosperity.