Osborne’s recovery: fiction triumphant over fact

Osborne Liar LiarOsborne’s central pitch in Wednesday’s budget will be that the recovery is strengthening, the economy is coming along nicely, so don’t hand back the keys to the people who caused the mess in the first place. Each of those statements is questionable or wrong. But Labour have boxed themselves in by supporting the austerity line all along and now find it difficult – even if they were so minded – to advocate an alternative expansionary programme when the economy seems to be reviving anyway from the austerity ashes.

Nevertheless Labour should be attacking hard the unsupported optimism of Osborne’s predictions across the board. There cannot be a genuine and sustainable recovery without a big revival in business investment, yet it is stuck still at 20% below the pre-crash level – in other words, business itself is still deeply sceptical about the ‘recovery’. Continue reading

Government fiddles unemployment figures by excluding everyone ‘sanctioned’

A winning hand of four aces - one of them handmade!Sanctioning’ is a particularly harsh and brutal way of treating unemployed people. They have all their benefit removed even for the most trivial infringements, e.g. being 5 minutes late for a job interview or for a work programme session. Their benefit (£71 a week JSA) is removed for 4 weeks for the first infringement, for 3 months for the second, and (almost unbelievably) for 3 years for the third.

This quickly reduces the victims of this abhorrent policy to destitution and leaves them with no alternative but to beg for board and lodging from family or friends. There is no appeal against these decisions which could well be regarded as a breach of the common law by deliberately reducing a person to penury by administrative edict against which there is no redress. Continue reading