Businesses need funding fast, so why doesn’t Osborne just order RBS and Lloyds to ratchet up the lending? After all, he controls 80% of the former and 40% of the latter, more than those who talked about seizing the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy ever dreamed of.
Why instead does he go cap in hand to the Bank of England begging it to overseee the pumping of loans to small firms through a process known as ‘credit easing’, thus bypassing the banks even though he owns two of the largest? And why does Cameron refuse to stop the obnoxious payment of gigantic bonuses in the City piggery on the pretence that he can’t micro-manage the banking system?
It’s because the byword in neoliberalism is that the private market is untouchable – governments should get out of the way, never interfere, the market knows best – and the banks are sacrosanct. Compare that with the treatment of those now being deliberately made homeless by government fiat – maybe a fifth of a million families: not untouchable, just violated.
The government’s own estimate is that ‘only’ 67,000 families will be affected by the housing benefit cap debated in Parliament yesterday. Of these, even the government itself admits that 12% of the families will lose as much as £100-150 a week, and another 17% will lose over £150 a week. That is justified by IDS on the grounds that they should be working and it isn’t fair that they’re getting more in benefits than many people in work.
This ignores however certain crucial facts. No less than 60% receiving housing benefit are not able to work – pensioners, disabled, or lone mothers with young children. The reason the housing benefit budget has soared in recent years is not because tenants (though it’s nearly always the landlords) who are raking it in, it’s because far too few houses are being built, so that demand far exceeds supply, forcing up prices and then housing benefit as a consequence.
And now the Tories are pushing the ‘Right to Buy’ again, reducing the supply, pressing up rents still further, not least because social housing rents are now being deliberately adjusted upwards to match private rents in the locality.
One law for the bankers, another for families made destitute and homeless. One law for the 99%, another for the 1% who inhabit a different planet. One law of inviolability for the financial elite, another for the poorest whose exploitation is seemingly limitless.