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Osborne budget: watch out for impossible future service cuts he’d rather keep hidden

Osborne's gladstone budgetboxOsborne’s last budget in a week’s time will proclaim the usual fanfare of ‘long-term economic plan’ brilliantly succeeding, if not quite Bush’s ‘Mission Accomplished’. Forget that the deficit today is touching £100bn, not the £37bn Osborne predicted in 2010 – any private sector director who got his sums that wildly wrong would be sacked on the spot.

Forget that Osborne has been forced to borrow over £200bn more during this parliament than he planned at the outset, thus increasing the national debt rather than reducing it. Forget that his cuts ensured the weakest recovery in modern history, a feeble income-less recovery that is already fading. What really matters is not the last-minute lollipop give-aways, but what the budget reveals about what another five years of Osbornism would inflict on British society.

Some of those facts are already becoming clear. The latest figures suggest that a Tory government would have £290bn to spend on services that currently cost more than £310bn. Given the effect of inflation and the protected budgets around healthcare, education and international development, the rest of government would have to take real terms cuts of around 30%. This of course includes departments responsible for defence, caring for the elderly, and for prisons. We should be demanding answers as to how these essential functions can be maintained with a fraction of the resources normally needed.

In all these areas disquiet, not to say anger, is building that squeezes on this scale are unsupportable. Even within its protected ringfence the NHS is showing clear signs of imminent breakdown in several areas, notably A&E, and a rising proportion of hospital trusts have large deficits amounting to bankruptcy. Military leaders in both the US and UK are voicing alarm at the extent of deep military cuts and questions are already being raised about whether these cuts are consistent with Britain’s commitment to NATO. Police chiefs are becoming vocal about their inability, given continuing steep cuts, to keep the streets safe and homes properly protected.

Government spending on elderly care homes has already been slashed between 2010-14 by nearly a fifth, whilst the number of adults receiving local authority care services has been cut by nearly a third from 1.8m to 1.3m. Yet the demand for care home places is rising inexorably as the number of over-85s is forecast to rise by 60% by 2035. As for home care for a rising elderly population with significant disabilities, but not yet requiring full care in a residential home, the drastic 30-40% cutbacks in local authority budgets have reduced care visits to a paltry 15 minutes or ended care visits altogether in a small but rising number of cases.

Remember as you listen to the budget: the bankers caused the crisis but blame everyone else but themselves and have been let off the hook completely, yet the innocent victims of the bankers’ reckless folly are now being forced to pay an intolerable price which Osborne is determined to force further until he is stopped by resistance he can’t overcome. Let their voices be heard!

2 Comments

  1. Barry Ewart says:

    We have to recognise Labour has moved on an inch from the SDP coup of New Labour, that inch is important.
    I’m more radical but we need to get the Tories out!
    This is why I post, to try to help Labour, to try to help working people.
    I also get out there and leaflet and canvass.
    I like Michael’s posts because he tries to be positive and offers hope which I also try to.
    Tory propaganda that Labour caused the financial crisis can easily be refuted by anyone who cares to look at the EVIDENCE FROM RECENT HISTORY – see Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Lehman Bros et al and sub prime lending in the US.
    Labour had to step in to save the banks – to save people’s wages, savings, benefits and pensions or there would have been chaos.
    But what would the Tories have done?
    They never say.
    And we need to know, it could happen again!
    To support my argument of the SDP New Labour coup New Labour didn’t help by sucking up to the City but weren’t the Tories always calling for less regulation?
    But the central blame was with the banks.
    The Tories believe in the supremacy of markets so if they were in power at the time and had not intervened, letting the market rule, would this have lead to panic, chaos, possibly riots?
    So in saving the banks was it Labour Competence as opposed to Tory potential Chaos?
    Of course we may have a clue in the Tory £1tr state intervention of quantitative easing – in reality the Tories probably would have done exactly the same.
    My view of the financial crisis in 2010 if in power is we should have had an immediate windfall tax of £200b plus tax the rich etc which would have eliminated the debt at a stroke and prevented the need for austerity and I posted this on the BBC site on the day the Coalition Agreement was signed 5 years ago (for the Lib Dems – ‘The shortest suicide note in history’).
    Back to Michael’s point on the financial crisis, it is time to nail the Tory big lie.
    One of he best things I have done in the last few years is to read the financial pages of newspapers (they are not boring and all socialists should do this so we are economically aware citizens) and unfortunately for the Tories history keeps throwing up more historical evidence!
    JP Morgan Chase fined 13b dollars in 2013 in the US for its role in sub prime lending and The City Group fined £4b in July 2014.
    “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we set out to deceive.”
    Yours in hope and solidarity!

    1. Robert says:

      Good luck getting people to follow labour, you would have a hell of a task I think we have enough right wing political parties.

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