Tag Archives: economy

Tory ‘divide and rule’: Rishi Sunak jumps on the benefit-bashing bandwagon

Rishi Sunak: after blaming people who miss medical appointments for failures in the NHS, he’s now attacking benefit claimants for the UK’s economic shortcomings – even though most of them are in work.

Here’s another reason Rishi Sunak should never be prime minister – he wants to blame benefit claimants for his own failure to manage the UK’s economy.

The points made by Peter Stefanovic are self-explanatory but, sadly, nobody in the mainstream media or the top rank of UK politics seems to want to amplify them, so the public as a whole are exposed to an echo chamber of claimant blame – when most benefit claimants are actually in work or seeking it.

The fault lies with Sunak – not with the innocent people he is attacking.

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UK businesses expect no growth over next three months

Sunak and Truss: it seems not to matter which of these becomes the next UK prime minister – neither will do anything to address coming surges in the cost of living.

Apparently it doesn’t matter who the next prime minister is going to be; the UK economy is still going down the toilet.

As a lay-person, this suggests to me that neither Liz Truss nor Rishi Sunak are promoting any policies that the experts – if I can call them that – at the CBI can recognise as being helpful.

British businesses do not expect any growth over the next three months, as a surging cost of living squeezes consumer demand, a monthly survey showed on Sunday.

The Bank of England has warned that Britain’s economy is likely to contract later this year, when a 40% jump in regulated energy tariffs hits consumers in October, and has forecast the economy will contract slightly next year.

Last week the International Monetary Fund forecast Britain would see the weakest growth of any major economy other than Russia next year.

Source: UK businesses expect zero growth over next 3 months – CBI

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Johnson and Sunak delay economy speech – nothing to say?

Sunak and Johnson: their big speech on the economy has been delayed. Is it because they can’t decide how to diddle more money away from the poor and into the hands of the rich?

A planned speech on the economy by Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak has been delayed until next month – because it’s not that big a problem for them?

The speech will be delayed until after Johnson attends international summits at the end of the month, including meetings of the G7 and Nato.

The Sunday Telegraph reported divisions in the Government over when tax cuts should be introduced and if they should focus on businesses or individuals.

And This Writer does not doubt it. Look at the grant to help us cope with the cost of increased energy bills: people with two homes get twice as much as those with one. Those with three get three times as much.

And landlords have no obligation to pass on the grants to their tenants who will pay the energy bills for their buildings.

So a grant claimed to be a boost for the poor is in fact a subsidy for the rich.

I fear we must expect a similar lie over any future economic “help”.

Source: Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak delay economy speech as Conservative demands for tax cuts grow

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Why is the Bank of England trying to stop us spending when we’re already doing that?

The Bank of England: it seems, behind this imposing facade, there lurks a circus complete with clowns.

It seems the economists at the Bank of England don’t have much of a clue.

They say they have raised interest rates to make it more expensive for consumers and businesses to borrow, so people start spending less, helping cool demand for goods and services and, in turn, slowing the pace of price rises; it’s a bid to curb inflation.

But people are already reining in their spending, because of inflation!

So the interest rate increase is pointless. Right?

Furthermore, as people are choosing to save (where they can), rather than spend, the growth of the economy is slowing – which is what the interest rate rise aims to do anyway. So it isn’t needed.

In fact, it may throw the economy into reverse, sending us into a recession.

And economists have warned that increases in interest rates may have little effect given rising global oil and gas prices, over which domestic changes can have little effect.

So there seems to be only one possible reason for the Bank’s decision:

Insanity.

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UK is heading into recession – probably – as your savings run down

Consumer confidence has fallen off a cliff: will spending do the same – and, if so, will the UK economy go into reverse at the worst possible moment?

Be careful with those savings you racked up during the Covid-19 lockdowns, because you’re going to need them to ride out the cost of living crisis!

That’s the message, as far as This Writer can tell, from economist Simon Wren-Lewis on his Mainly Macro blog – and it’s as close to a prediction that the UK is going into recession as you’re likely to see.

Most economic forecasters aren’t saying it because they’re afraid to, it seems.

We know we’re looking at the biggest fall in living standards since records began in 1956-7, because of Brexit-fuelled increases in the cost of goods (including food), rising energy bills and the largest number of tax rises to be inflicted on a UK population in around 40 years.

You will be expected to use your savings to cushion this blow.

That’s fine – as long as you can be sure that the cost-of-living crisis will be only a short-term shock. But there’s no evidence that this is the case; the effects of Brexit are expected to last for decades, we’re being told to brace for another energy bill shock in October, and the Tories have absolutely no intention of reducing taxes – they want to squeeze you until your pips squeak.

With these expectations in mind, consumer confidence is flatlining:

“The GfK Consumer Confidence Index fell for the fourth month in a row to -31 from -26 in February, its lowest since November 2020, deep in the coronavirus pandemic. Readings of -30 and below have presaged recession on four out of five occasions since the survey started in 1974.” Since then the March data is available, and it’s at -38!

That’s the weakest consumer confidence since the 2008 financial crisis, and weaker than at any time during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

So it seems likely that spending will tail off as the year progresses, people see how the cost-of-living shocks affect their savings, and improvements in their financial position fail to appear.

As spending tails off, the economy will falter. And the Tory government has already told us it does not have any plan to stimulate growth with an injection of public cash.

So, even if you have a well-stuffed savings account now, expect those funds to run low by the end of the year, while bills and taxes remain high. What are you going to do then?

Source: mainly macro: Is the UK heading for a recession?

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Welsh Labour is finalising plans for UBI pilot that could slash poverty and galvanise the economy

Mark Drakeford: Wales’ First Minister has promised to devote the rest of his time in office to rolling out a Universal Basic Income that will lift everybody in Wales out of poverty.

While England suffers under Boris Johnson’s tyranny, Wales may soon prosper under a coalition of Labour and Plaid Cymru led by Mark Drakeford.

Flagship policy is Drakeford’s plan to roll out a Universal Basic Income that could slash poverty by at least 50 per cent in a stroke. A pilot is planned for the spring involving young people leaving care, with other groups to be added.

The aim seems to be to find a way of introducing it without provoking sanctions from the deeply neoliberal – and poverty-encouraging – UK government run by Tory Boris Johnson in Westminster.

It seems the aim is to present Johnson with an argument he can’t refute, like showing the plan improves economic activity by giving people more spending power – as indicated by research from the Autonomy think tank.

According to Autonomy’s report, an introductory UBI of just £60 per week for adults aged 18-65, across the whole of Wales, would immediately cut poverty in half – and child poverty by two-thirds (to 10 per cent from 28 per cent, currently the highest level in the UK).

Pensioners would get £175 on this system, and pensioner poverty would be cut by 61 per cent.

A more substantial (and, yes, more expensive) UBI rate would almost wipe out Welsh poverty entirely. It is suggested as a long-term goal for policymakers.

The report forecast that UBI could create £600 million of extra spending in Wales by putting more cash in the pockets of lower-income households – the group acknowledged to spend most of its income into the economy, rather than saving it.

This would generate tax income for the Welsh government, allowing it to push on with further progressive policies.

The income security provided by UBI will improve the nation’s health and increase life expectancy – people in Wales will be able to expect longer and healthier lives.

And people will enjoy more freedom to try new things like finding appropriate jobs, starting businesses of their own, or improving their education or skills. These are all things that the Tory system of means-tested and heavily-restricted benefits suppress.

And the Welsh people support it by a clear majority. Surveys show 69 per cent of the Welsh public want UBI, while only 11 per cent oppose it.

And the First Secretary of Wales, Mark Drakeford, has said he will devote the remainder of his time in office to rolling out UBI in Wales.

This could be hugely important, not just for Wales, but for UK politics as a whole.

As England sinks into the mire of Tory corruption, its people forced deeper and deeper into poverty by higher costs for groceries, commodities and – very soon – health care, they may find themselves staring across Offa’s Dyke at a land of healthy, happy, people in a country that is moving forward, not downward.

The Tories will do their best to obstruct it, of course, but they can’t stop it. Indeed, any overt attempt to do so will be rightly condemned as anti-democratic.

Done properly, it may stand as a demonstration of the harm being done by Tory – and Westminster Labour – neoliberalism that promised us increased wealth for the rich minority that would trickle down to the rest of us once they’d had enough but only proved that the rich minority never have enough and enjoy keeping the rest of us in poverty and misery anyway.

In short: this could be the pebble that starts an avalanche, overturning failed right-wing economics for good.

Or am I overstating it?

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Brexit is far worse for the UK than Covid. Why didn’t Sunak mention it in his Budget speech?

Big mistake: Johnson said Brexit would release a huge amount of money into the UK economy – instead it has shrunk the economy by four per cent. That’s more than any of the recessions of the 1970s and 80s.

Rishi Sunak’s big lie: in his Budget speech he referred time and time again to the effect of the Covid crisis, and the need to recover from it – and not once to Brexit.

So the Budget “does not draw a line under Covid”; it prepares for “a new economy post-Covid”; it forecasts that the economy with “return to its pre-Covid level” at the turn of the year; it says the Tory government has been “more successful” than feared in preventing the “long-term economic damage of Covid”.

Sunak talked about supporting theatres, orchestra, museums and galleries “to recover from Covid”; he refers to the business rate cut as being among “Covid reliefs”; and he says Covid was “not just a public health challenge and an economic challenge – it was a moral challenge too”.

What about the public health and moral challenges of Brexit, then – now that we know it has caused twice as much harm to the economy as Covid-19?

According to the Guardian article,

Richard Hughes said the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had assumed leaving the EU would “reduce our long run GDP by around 4%”, adding in comments to the BBC: “We think that the effect of the pandemic will reduce that (GDP) output by a further 2%.”

“In the long term it is the case that Brexit has a bigger impact than the pandemic”, Hughes told the broadcaster.

And yet it hasn’t been mentioned by the government in its most significant financial statement of the year.

Could it be that someone (Boris Johnson) is a little embarrassed?

He should be:

Only yesterday – the day after the Budget speech – Parliament was hearing about the devastating effect on the economy… of Brexit:

Let’s be honest, minister Victoria Prentis’s reply wasn’t very reassuring, was it? The questioner had already said people aren’t queuing up domestically to harvest fruit and vegetables, and the EU recruitment schemes have all failed. That leaves automation, which will stop people from having jobs in the future.

It’s the elephant in the Treasury.

Sunak won’t talk about it because he knows a Tory government caused it.

And it has caused twice as much harm as the pandemic he has blamed for so many of the UK’s current problems.

It seems to This Writer – and doesn’t it seem the same to you? – that nothing he has said will count for anything if he continues to ignore the biggest single threat to our well-being, just because his boss caused it.

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Covid-19: Boris Johnson is happy if 50,000 of you die every year. He likes money more

Boris Johnson reckons the cost of saving up to 50,000 lives a year from Covid-19 is too high, according to leaked information from Downing Street.

It seems he would rather put you all back to work, slaving to keep the economy generating money for him and his Tory Party donors while the bodies pile high – remember what he (allegedly) said last autumn?

And if you die – so what? You’re not him so he doesn’t care.

Apparently the threshold at which he’ll start to consider re-imposing measures to restrict the spread of the virus is 50,000 lives a year. That’s more than 1,000 a week or around 137 every day.

The Prime Minister is minded to implement another lockdown or new restrictions only if the figure of annual deaths looks like it’s going to go above 50,000. That means deaths from Covid of 137 a day, or just under 1,000 a week.

It’s the equivalent of three or four major aeroplane crashes every week – but they would make news headlines and these deaths probably won’t.

And here’s a funny thing. 137 deaths per day? We’re already very close to that – and the schools in England haven’t reopened for the autumn term yet.

Ah, but it seems the level of deaths would have to be sustained for two or three weeks…

“A sustained rate of death of around a 1,000 a week for two or three weeks will, though, lead to discussion on restrictions being reimposed. Unfortunately, prime ministers have to weigh up the cost of saving lives to the impact on the economy. No one wants to talk about that’s how it works.”

… and at the moment the media are all far too busy pointing our attention towards disasters in other countries to bother reminding us of the disaster that Boris Johnson is planning to inflict on us right here in the UK.

This Writer reckons we’ll hit Johnson’s threshold for new restrictions by the third or fourth week in September.

But I’m willing to bet he’ll do nothing about it, even then.

I’ll be happy to be mistaken. But I don’t think I am.

Labour’s plan for Universal Credit – and the reason it will CREATE, not cost, money

Someone needs to tell the writers at The Guardian to give their heads a shake. It might put some sense into them.

That organ’s latest piece about Labour Party policy says the plan to change Universal Credit, so people on the benefit who are working take more cash home, would cost “billions of pounds annually”.

It wouldn’t.

Poor people – those on benefits and those on low-income jobs who need to claim benefits to survive (so much for the Tories’ claim that the minimum wage is also a “living” wage!) have to spend the money they earn.

This fact is central to Labour’s message. The plan is to ensure that people have “jobs you can raise a family on” – which implies that current pay rates, combined with UC, aren’t enough for that.

And raising a family costs money; any extra pay UC claimants received would be spent.

It is an acknowledged fact that money spent into the UK economy by the poorest people in the country has the greatest “multiplier” effect – that is to say, it provides the greatest boost to the economy.

This is because it travels the longest distance, and passes through the largest number of hands, before being taxed back out again.

Think about it: a claimant receives Universal Credit plus wages; he spends some on food, heat, rent, other bills, and necessities. The firms receiving that money give some to their own employees in wages and pay some in taxes, and also spend some in investments and in resupplying their stock. The firms receiving that money do the same.

The money going to employees goes straight back to the bottom of the economy and the cycle begins again.

So the “economic multiplier” – the boost to the economy – provided by cutting the taper rate of Universal Credit to let claimants keep and spend more money is enormous.

It would certainly boost the economy by far more than the £350 million that the Graun reckons a one-per-cent change would cost the Treasury.

And it would bring a little equality into pay rates between the richest and the poorest. I mean, why are the UK’s poorest people paying a marginal tax rate of 75 per cent when people earning more than £150,000 a year are paying only 47 per cent? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Some of the Graun‘s other statements are also questionable – although one has to ask whether they originate with Keir Starmer’s right-wing Labour Party itself.

For example: “Labour believes the measure will radically boost the incentive for many people on low incomes to move into work” – as if there’s loads of jobs around for them to move into!

It is a simple fact – apparently unfathomable to right-wing politicians – that people who can get jobs do get jobs; they keep applying until they get one.

The claim that they need an incentive to do so is an insult to everybody who strives at the hard end of the labour market.

And the final suggestion – that Labour has shifted from planning to scrap Universal Credit altogether to simply aiming to make it “more generous and less punitive and bureaucratic” is a disaster in the making.

It means that any Tory government coming in after Labour would simply be able to pervert the benefit back into a penalty system for being poor (which is what it is now).

Better to scrap the lot and bring in Universal Basic Income. Then benefit conditionality, all the bureaucracy that goes with it, and all the prejudice, would be eliminated forever.

Source: Labour to pledge shake-up of universal credit as part of wider ‘new deal’ | Universal credit | The Guardian

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Propaganda alert: UK economic growth is nothing to crow about and here’s the reason

Back in business? But how far will the UK economy restore itself after Covid, with the shadow of Brexit hanging over it?

What a way to spin something we all knew would happen.

According to economic forecaster EY Item Club (who?), the economy is growing at its fastest rate in 80 years. Gosh!

But… isn’t that because it stalled altogether last year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and is just now bouncing back?

Is it not the truth that, rather than growing, we should say the economy is being restored to the level we might expect after the crisis?

I think it is.

As The Guardian‘s report puts it,

The EY Item Club said it now expected GDP to grow by 7.6% … The UK economy shrank by 9.8% in 2020.

So that’s 2.2 per cent of shrinkage that the economy won’t make up this year, meaning the nation as a whole will be worse-off than before the pandemic hit.

There are other elements likely to affect the UK’s economic performance, including inflation and unemployment.

The recovery is extremely fragile, and another Covid wave could bring it crashing to a halt or even into reverse.

And there’s also the elephant in the room. I notice that nobody involved in this article has mentioned Brexit.

Source: UK economy growing at fastest rate in 80 years, says forecaster | Economic growth (GDP) | The Guardian

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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