Welcome to Budget Day, or as we've come to know it - the day where the government announce the new and innovative ways they've concoted to ruin lives and run this country into the ground.
In ten months of Tory government, plus five years under the Coalition, we’ve witnessed a comprehensive, ruthless, unrelenting attack on disabled people, low earners, unemployed people, families, elderly people, migrants, hospitals, schools, unions, civil rights, and the very fabric of democracy.
We were told that this was all necessary, and that our country’s fragile economy would be shored up as a result of all these cost-cutting measures. This should go down in history as one of the biggest LIES ever told by a government to its people.
Here's a handful of truths instead:
- Over 14,000 disabled people have lost their mobility cars through switching from DLA to PIP
- 18,000 people lost vital assistance when the IndependentLiving Fund was closed last year
- The government used a loophole to reject calls from the House of Lords for an impact assessment before voting through a further £30 aweek cut to Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
- Proposed further cuts to PIP will see 200,000 disabledpeople lose £3000 a year
- The government admits that at least 2000 people have died following Work Capability Assessments, though campaigners say the true figure is much higher.
- WCAs have also been linked to 279,000 new cases of mental health problems, and 725,000 new prescriptions for anti-depressants.
- Disabled people have been hit up to 19 times harder byausterity cuts.
- While demand for mental health services has soared by 20% in the last five years, funding has been cut by 8% in real terms.
|Credit: Centre for Welfare Reform|
- The average house price is now over TEN times a person’s income, and in London NINETEEN times the average salary.
- Of the NINE MILLION private renters in the UK, one-third ofprivately rented homes fail to meet the Decent Homes Standard.
- More than 50,000 families are recorded as homeless every year, with over 103,000 children recorded as homeless for Christmas 2015.
- A third of homeless people are made so because of a privatetenancy ending, and being unable to afford to find another home – this figure has trebled under David Cameron, from 11% in 2009.
- The Tories rejected an amendment to the Housing and PlanningBill, which would see landlords required to ensure that homes are fit for habitation.
- The CAB estimates that over 700,000 families are living in privately rented homes that are unfit for habitation, with landlords taking in £5.6bn in rent for those properties.
- Over 15,000 homeless families have been put into emergency B&B accommodation in a different local authority – sometimes an hour and a half’s travelling time away from children’s schools.
- Research by letting agents Your Move and Reeds Rains showed rents in England and Wales had increased by 15% since May 2010, or 3.6% beyond inflation.
|Credit: Shelter via ITV|
- The government has announced that by 2020, all schools willhave converted to academy status.
- Overwhelming evidence has shown that academies are more thantwice as likely to become “inadequate” in Ofsted terms than schools under Local Authority control, and up to TWELVE times as likely to remain “inadequate” rather than improve.
- Teachers report working on average 59 hours a week, only 1/3 of which is spent on teaching. The rest is spent on planning, administration, and management.
- The number of teachers leaving the profession has risen by11% over the past 3 years, and 75% of those leave before retirement.
- Workload came top (61%) in reasons given by teachers who were thinking of leaving the profession in a recent YouGov survey for the National Union of Teachers, closely followed by seeking a better work-life balance (57%).
- 55% of 338 school leaders surveyed by the Association of School and College Leaders have reported a large rise in pupils with anxietyand stress.
- The NSPCC reported that the number of young people in Britain seeking counselling over exam stress has increased by 200% in recentyears.
- In 2013-14 ChildLine said it received more than 34,000approaches from young people over school worries such as revision, workloads, problems with teachers
- The “Prevent” agenda has been branded toxic and criticised for exacerbating Islamophobia, as families report feeling threatened with having their children removed.
- Some Further Education staff have experienced a real-termspay cut of 17% after years of below-inflation rises and pay freezes.
- Spending for adult education has been slashed by 25%, with a loss of over a million adult learners so far.
- £45million has been cut from ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes, affecting 16,000 places.
- University maintenance grants for the UK’s poorest studentswere scrapped without a Commons vote, after a legislation committee with just 17 MPs present took the decision.
- The poorest students will now graduate with an average £53,000 debt.
- Around 45% of student loans will never be paid off, creating a financial time bomb for future years.
|TUC "Britain Needs A Payrise" demonstration, October 2014. Credit:|
So I originally started writing this as a shouty Facebook post to summarise a few key terrible things the Tories have subjected us to since getting their claws back into government in 2010, and what horrors may unfold as the 2016/17 Budget is announced today. I've had to stop, partially because the list is now SO long - and I've barely scratched the surface, and certainly haven't analysed the impact on people's lives - but mostly because it's thoroughly demoralising to actually try and pull together a comprehensive overview of just how bad this government is.
I haven't even touched on what they've done to the NHS, the conditions endured by migrants and refugees, our failure to address our role in climate change, human rights, civil rights, and so many other areas that the Tories are continually wrecking.
We were sold the austerity package as the only hope of stabilishing our economy in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008/9. We were told there was no alternative, that we were all in this together.
Well as the richest 1000 families saw their personal wealth double since the recession, while the net wealth of the poorest 20% has decreased by 57%, I don't feel very TOGETHER.
With more and more devastating cuts wreaked on the most vulnerable sectors of our society, written into legislation by millionaire MPs who have personal stakes in private companies now holding contracts for the NHS, have massive property portfolios for private rental, and make a fortune from lobbying groups - I don't feel very TOGETHER.
Countries such as Iceland, who were also hit by the recession, have gotten their economy back on track by letting the banks go bust instead of bailing them out, investing in public services and jailing the bankers who caused the economic crisis. Meanwhile, our deficit hasn't even been halved, when Osborne claimed he would have eradicated it by 2015, and we have created more new debt since 2010 than every Labour government in UK history combined.
There was always an alternative. Austerity is a lie, and we continue to be conned by it. Eleven-million voters were conned by their promises in 2015, and now the remaining fifty-five million people in the UK are paying the price.
Every single petition that calls on the government to reverse or halt another devastating decision under the banner of austerity, every last demonstration and protest, every piece of alternative media that exposes their lies - every small and seemingly inconsequential thing we do chips away at their facade. By getting organised, mobilising into a united front, and keeping up the pressure on them, we stand a small chance of making a difference. And if not, I'm sure as hell not going to let them get away quietly.
This seems like a logical place to plug the next People's Assembly demonstration.