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Why we should say NO to welfare cuts in the next Parliament

SAY NO TO WELFARE CUTSThere is an auction taking place on the size of the welfare cuts to be imposed in the next 5 years. The Tories are arguing for £30bn cuts in the first 2 years to 2017-8 via no tax rises, £12bn in welfare cuts, £5bn in extra corporate tax evasion revenues, and bigger departmental cuts (up to £17bn). The LibDems accept the overall £30bn target set by the Tories, but propose to reach it by £6bn in higher taxes, £6bn by clamping down on corporate tax evasion, £12bn in departmental cuts, and £3.5bn in welfare cuts. The Labour party has not explained in detail how it would reach its target of eliminating the structural deficit by 2019-20, though the cuts would be less than under the Tories and confined to current expenditure, not capital expenditure. Nobody is saying that there should be no welfare cuts in the next 5 years. But they should be, for several strong reasons.

First, it is iniquitous to impose on the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society – namely the 13.5m people living in households below the official poverty line (60% of median incomes) – huge further burdens when they are already living so precariously on the edge of the abyss, and especially when they had no responsibility whatever for the financial crash which is allegedly the cause behind this whole decade of austerity. Second, it is egregiously harsh to concentrate further savings heavily on welfare cuts when no tax increases are being imposed at all, letting the richest completely off the hook.

Third, there is no a big song and dance about where exactly Osborne’s further £12bn welfare cuts are going to come from, and with good reason. Leaving aside the £93bn devoted to pensions and pension credit which Osborne has said he won’t touch, how then will he chop £12bn off the remaining £74bn of the UK’s total welfare bill? Housing allowances cost £18bn and have been rising fast, but that’s because far too few houses are being built and anyway the benefit goes entirely to private landlords; excluding young people from the allowance, as is mooted, will not save anything remotely near £12bn. Both DLA and ESA pay out £13bn a year, but to disabled people and those with long-term illnesses, and the government’s callous attempts to cut their numbers drastically by Atos declaring them fit for work has already run into the sands. So what is left? JSA, the government’s favourite target, only accounts for £3.6bn, and at £72.40 a week this unemployment benefit is already almost the lowest in Europe and so meagre that it’s difficult to survive on.

Nobody, but nobody, is saying, not just that further major welfare cuts won’t work, but rather that it’s the wrong policy. Contracting the economy further, and at such a huge human price, is self-defeating. It won’t even begin to make any significant contribution to cutting a deficit still stuck at £92bn. The real way, the only way, to escape this endless recession is to break with further cuts and grow the economy though public investment to kickstart sustainable growth, raise household incomes, increase government tax receipts, and pay down the deficit much faster

12 Comments

  1. Robert says:

    After reading and hearing what Reeves said, I finally took my my pen well my key board and stopped my political levy going to labour.

    Labour is the party of working people not those on welfare or benefits.

    Which of course are pensioners the sick the disabled and those who are in low pay or unemployed.

    I wonder who Ms Reeves is speaking about the New labour Middle class.

    She also said labour is the party of working people it’s in the name, that I do not understand in the name , in the name, still cannot understand it, Progress

    Progress is the party of working people it’s in the name.

    Then again Ms Reeves is a Blair-rite Progress Chair who is about as much working class as I am Tory

  2. Barry Ewart says:

    The only welfare state cuts there should be is to the luxurious upper class welfare state!
    The rich and powerful are subsidised on practically everything.
    It is our labour that creates the wealth and makes societies work and we shouldn’t be shy about getting our full share back!
    Some at the top of Labour seem happy to go along with bullying the poor (like the other parties ) because they may be frightened of the media and in my view may lack the critical thinking skills and socialist strength to offer powerful counter arguments.
    Just take the money from big business and the rich who use tax avoidance TO AVOID GIVING TO SOCIETIES (perish the thought that they should pay their proper share to fund the NHS, adult social care, to address child poverty etc. etc.)
    The rich globally have stashed 22 trillion in illicit offshore bank accounts (New Internationalist).
    After years of utter silence some at the top of Labour are now born again champions of abolishing the bedroom tax.
    Yes we should abolish the bedroom tax, but also compensate all those who have suffered under it!
    Labour has moved on an inch from the SDP coup of New Labour, but that inch is important.
    I am a left wing democratic socialist and much more radical but will be voting Labour and will do my best to help get Labour and Miliband get in, as the appalling SDP ‘Progess’ (an oxymoron) wait in the wings.
    We should reduce the membership fee, give the power back to conference (to a bottom up, grassroots led, participatory Labour) and let constituencies pick their own candidates.
    We should also have a rule that there should be at least 2 working class democratic socialist candidates on every Parliamentary shortlist (social classes 3-6 of occupation of parent/s).
    Time to get the Tories out, and to build Progresive Labour!

  3. no opposition to the cuts will happen without a dedicated opposition group. Tiresome though it is to make the same point as with the clean up of politics campaign, talk is cheap, action difficult, but without stopping the blogging and starting a focus campaign the effect is negative. The Westminster consensus is to destroy the welfare state.

    Robert (no surname) continues to be obscure. If you can’t give details of who Reeves is (personally I lost track of progress after a vice chair became Milibands campaign chief. Not a lot of point making the effort) and what she has said where and when, whats the point?

    Dossiers on all the issues covered here should be compiled, as professionally as possible, for the journalists who may want to burst the Westminster bubble when it becomes obvious it is no longer viable. Parrallels with Greece are for once viable.

    trevor fisher.

    1. Robert says:

      The problem is your New labour your not to the left your to the right, you think Blair did well winning three terms I think he ended the labour movement as a left of center party.

      You want a return of New labour I want a return of the Red labour not Blue labour not Purple labour or pink labour. I want Progress gone and those right wingers who now control the party.

      Robert ….lefty

      1. John.P reid says:

        I wanted the left of the party in 1983 t o admit their ousting of the SDP by block votes and Trots in militant ,resulted in us getting only 27% of the vote, but No Tony Benn said we lost in 83 as it wasn’t left wing enough.

        1. Robert says:

          I cannot even be bothered John

          1. John.P reid says:

            Yet you keep on replying, without any sensible suggestions

  4. Barry Ewart says:

    Hi Trevor
    I am part of the small Labour Representation Committee (LRC) in Labour who try to campaign for change in Labour.
    There is also of course a small decent socialist Party (Left Unity) and I thought about joining them for a while but Labour is where most working people are and where most importantly most of the trade unions are.
    Now as Robert is about to come in – I use the term ‘working people’ because it I believe it encompasses all of us who have to sell our labour to live (skilled, unskilled – who were often divided) and we no longer have the mass industrialised working class of the 1960’s but if we are to go by social class scale I was born into social classes between 3-6 – mother a waitress, dad worked on building sites.
    Good point though about more than blogging and I attend marches, meetings, rallies, demos and canvass and leaflet (I have also been known to leave left wing flyers on buses etc. which we should all do) and I blog to try to share ideas – and being holistic socialists should enrich blogging comments.
    Yours in solidarity!

  5. this is helpful, and the LRC in Staffordshire work with the anti cancer privatization campaign which I work with. However on all issues there is a lack of big campaigns. In Stoke, where we removed all 9 BNP councilors, the result has been to leave the field open to UKIP and we can’t get young people involved. THis morning 3 old stagers went out and we worked out our combined ages were 201. Leafletting is old hat fr the young, and the anti fascist organization we belong to (NORSCARF- north stafforshire campaign against racism and fascism) has over 100 young members on facebook…. and they are never seen.

    The rise of UKIP and Austerity which is the root cause of UKIP and the demoralization of the movement in areas like stoke (the ward we were in once had 100% BNP councilors) means that we don’t have even a solid old style working class base any more in those council areas. However the lack of a big movement nationally not only means that the ordinary voter cannot see anything to vote for especially Labour but also means that the young though to the left – only 3% would vote UKIP – can’t be mobilized.

    At this election it will be an old farts vote that decides whether there is a right wing victory. If this does not happen which would be a disaster some very hard thinking has to happen on how to build an anti austerity pro thatcher movement…. and how to get young people off their backsides and out of cyberspace.

    Challenging times ahead, and small groups can play a role, but not a decisive one.

    trevor fisher

  6. Barry Ewart says:

    Perhaps we need to harness social media whilst maintaining traditional forms of protest and campaigning.
    We should also see the ultra expolited younger generation as an asset.
    They could end up working as cheap labour until they ar 70 then get crummy pensions!
    The excellent petition site UK Uncut is led by young people for example and a number of students occupied universities as Owen Jones points out in the latest New Statesman.
    Interestingly a campaign to save an estate in London from a private company takeover and a proposed doubling of rents was WON by the residents as the company were worried about their share price from negative publicity and they pulled out – this was a victory for the residents and we should use economics against such companies more as this situation seems to be escalating in London because of capitalist greed!
    I also recently attended a wonderful 30th Anniversary end of the miners strike event in Wakefield and Denis Skinner in a great speech said imagine if we had have had mobile phones in 1984/85!
    So we should see young people as an asset (they have to sell their labour to live too) and we should encourage them to join democratic socialist parties and trade unions.
    Of course as political people on the Left we are a minority as politically aware citizens sadly may be a minority which is kind of understandable as the rich and powerful dominate the media etc. but everyone you see tomorrow has to (or used to) have to sell their labour to survive.
    Every night the rich and powerful must pray that the working billions will turn up for work tomorrow.
    So they must perpetually continue to con, and we, by being honest have to continue to try to wake working people up (including young people) to their genuine reality.
    So we need to continue to offer hope.
    I am confident we will win.
    Yours in solidarity!

    1. Robert says:

      Fisher is right wing Progress and to be honest your pretty close to it.

      I worked for thirty years until one day I made an error in judgement and had a fall, the error was using a machine which has not been serviced for ten years and I did not know. I broke my back in three places losing the use of my legs and both hands in that accident.

      BUt your both talking about a party which died with Kinnock, and you cannot state working people because what it means is people in work, sadly we have a lot who are not, as for pension we are getting a better pension now then we did before.

      Both pension and benefits are going up under the Tories faster then they did under labour, or did you forget the 75rise in pension which saw the age concern become political or as labour and the Tories now call it the grey vote.

      Fisher thinks Blair was a fine man who took labour to three terms but like Thatcher they had an easy ride Kinnock was an easy target and so was Hague and IDS and Howard , but now the Tories are back with Cameron. labour are going to be shown the door in Scotland not because the SNP are right wingers but because they have moved to the left while labour is back in the center.

      When you see McDonnell again tell him Robert sends his best. if he says which Robert the one in the wheelchair.

      The one none of the political parties care to talk about.

  7. On the principle that not to deny something might mean people accept it, lets be quite clear that I have no links to Progress and do not think that Blair was anything other than a disaster.

    The people who thought Blair was excellent as he won three elections – and they are not alone – were two GMB officials I spoke to in 2010. Nothing to do with me.

    The New Labour project is now coming to an end and the question is whether it can be reversed before losing Scotland and to UKIP in many areas of England and Wales. On Sunday I was out in a working class estate in Stoke which has elected BNP councilors in the past and may elect UKIP.

    THe need to start an anti austerity programme is now essential.

    Trevor Fisher.

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