Today’s Autumn Statement was possibly the bleakest outlook on the economy for more than sixty years. The economy is in an appalling state of stagnation and collapse, the foundations are failing and plans to secure its recovery are faltering at every turn. George Osborne has failed to heed the warnings from the IMF and the World Bank, and is placing ideology and addiction to public sector cuts before the necessity of supporting the weakest and most vulnerable in our society. This Urgent Statement addresses the horrifying Autumn Statement.
As we further move towards winter we must face the reality that what lies immediately ahead will be the twenty-first century version of the winter of discontent. Osborne, addicted to cuts, deeper cuts, and even deeper cuts admitted today that Plan A had failed and austerity would last until 2018 at the earliest. Average growth forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility, the IMF, EU Commission and Credit rating agencies have even suggested that such claims are unrealistic; with comparisons to the March Budget suggesting that confidence even within the inner circle of the Treasury has all but disappeared. We face a decade of decay and austerity – this is no less than a national disaster and one that we must address quickly.
As the roof of the economy is ripped off by Mr Osborne to make way for the torrent of benefit cuts and pay freezes, it is time he realized that growth does not come from pay constraint. The policy and notion of such constraint and limitations caused pain and misery for Barbara Castle and Michael Foot when they were ministers more than thirty years ago – and it still viewed by many, including former Chancellor Alistair Darling as nothing more than “the last card in the pack that can be played”. If we intend for there to be growth, for more people to spend more money buying more items, something that we must consider the biggest factor: where is such money going to come from? It is a factor that has been overlooked by Mr Osborne who yet again announced pay cuts for public sector employees. With inflation expected to stay above the Bank of England’s target of 2% until 2014, then not only will family necessities have to be cut – but essential too. Benefit cuts symbolize that Osborne has moved away from the notion of ‘all in this together’ and more towards ‘every man for himself’. Mr Osborne is withdrawing support for those in need, rejecting key proposals and instead turning his head towards the belief that tax cuts, and only tax cuts, will be the saviour of the our troubled financial situation. History has proved that when times get tough tax cuts and public sector cuts don’t work, and when times get even tougher repeating the same old cycle of tax and public sector cuts still doesn’t work. Osborne isn’t listening, and is denying the clear facts that attempts of such ‘fiscal restraint’ fail every – single –time.
Lead by the ideology and the belief in a smaller state – Osborne has added tax cuts to his Christmas list. The cuts to Corporation Tax are intended to indicate that Britain is ‘open for business’. Nevertheless, Mr Osborne has failed to address the problems regarding that Corporation Tax simply isn’t being paid. If big businesses are evading tax then the only message being sent out is that our tax system is ‘open for abuse’. With such a bleak economic picture, we also have to face the big concerns. If no money is being made, profit created or services provided – how is any rate of tax expected to work. The public sector sets the bar high in everything does – providing key services at good prices. Every part of the public sector is required from the ‘backroom’ form fillers, who without them would leave a back-log of work to the front line Bobbies and paramedics. Ideology comes first as the sector that has punched well above its weight, provided more than its fair share to the economy and is the bastion of quality and care is destroyed by a Chancellor whose home he would rather be in the pocket of big business than Number 11 Downing Street.
It is time for Britain to get to work. There is nothing stopping us from reaching our full potential – from producing more, inventing more and being more. Osborne is not a fighter – he is not fighting for Britain. Keeping pay low only goes to keep the power of the public sector and the productivity of its employees equally as low. We are constantly reminded that this is the worst economic situation for sixty years – then perhaps it is time to take lessons from history. To promote growth you invest more, spend more and think bigger. You do not pull back, you go further, reform further and push for more. To get more produced you empower people with increased spending to create a cycle of employment and increased tax receipts; never giving up. You never give up on the belief that opposed to cuts, growth in the public sector can lead to growth in the economy - and you never give up on anyone in society. Because we do have, and Britain has, so much more to give.
By James Wand