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THIS Tory government has shown no sign whatsoever of ending austerity in our other crisis-hit public services.
Despite the Prime Minister’s claims, its disastrous austerity agenda continues.
Since 2010, £42 billion of cuts have been made to departments, with £4bn more to come next year.
There have already been £17bn worth of cuts to social security – but now, when austerity is supposedly over, there are £7bn more in the pipeline.
Social care has been cut by £7bn with 1.4m older people not having their care needs met.
But now, when the cuts are said to be stopping, schools will be hit by the first real cuts since the 1990s if an extra £1bn is not found.
One in five schools is now asking parents for money to purchase items such as art materials, not to mention the £3.8bn needed to reverse further and adult education cuts.
Local government is facing a funding gap of £5.8bn by 2020, with the number of children being taken into care at its highest level since 1985 while over 500 libraries and children’s centres are set to be closed.
Rough sleeping has more than doubled and there are now more than 120,000 children living in temporary accommodation.
This is the appalling human impact of austerity.
And it’s not over. Universal credit is causing severe hardship and the roll-out needs to be stopped immediately.
Esther McVey has reportedly told the Cabinet that many families will be £200 a week worse off.
The government needs to stop the roll-out, cut the five-week wait, end counter-productive sanctions and reverse the cuts to disabled people, children and work allowances.
Tinkering around the edges or another delay isn’t good enough.
The fact that Hammond is going to announce money for the NHS is a sign of the Tories’ desperation, and that Labour is now setting the political agenda.
He’s been forced into this and even these inadequate commitments on his behalf represent a massive climbdown on the austerity agenda.
At the same time that the government has slashed investment, social security and public services, they are on track to rack up £110bn of corporation tax giveaways by the end of this Parliament.
The deficit has been shifted onto NHS trusts, local councils, and households – they are the ones feeling the pain – and will continue to do so for some years after. Austerity merely passed the buck.
Austerity was never the right response to the financial crisis and has only undermined and delayed economic recovery. And the crisis has been increasingly made worse by the chaotic failure of the Tory government to secure a Brexit deal.
Last year, Labour set out its vision for our first Budget: an additional £49bn of day-to-day spending thanks to increased taxes on the rich and big business, and £250bn of investment over 10 years.
We’ve remained ready for an election, constantly maintaining our costings estimates as well as rolling out new policies: workers on boards, new democratically run public water companies, a net zero emissions 2050 target and the Inclusive Ownership Fund.
So if the Tories do finally tear themselves apart over Brexit, we’re prepared for government.
But in the meantime, the pressure is on Philip Hammond: ending austerity means that in the Spending Review envelope that he promised to lay out at the Budget, he must commit to halting and reversing the cuts.
Otherwise he’s just prolonging austerity into a fourth parliament.
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