PILES of food were displayed outside Downing Street yesterday on the eve of the Tories’ Budget to show the effects of the government’s public funding cuts.
Campaign organisation People's Assembly Against Austerity bought the huge collection of food and women's sanitary items, which will be donated to foodbanks. It also carried out protests across the country, encouraging those attending to bring donations with them.
People's Assembly national secretary Sam Fairbairn said he didn’t expect that Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget would have policies to improve living standards of the majority of people after seven years of austerity, labelling it a “Budget for the rich.”
Foodbank charity the Trussell Trust has said that, in areas where the universal credit (UC) benefit reform scheme has been rolled out so far, there has been an increase in foodbank usage by around 30 per cent, he added.
"We wanted to get a load of food here in Downing Street as a way of showing what government policies are driving the poorest of people to,” he said.
Some of the policies Mr Hammond is expected to announce include rail cards for discount travel to those up to the age of 30 and a promise to build 300,000 new homes a year.
"The government is going to use the little incentives — that are not real incentives — to justify its ideological shrinking of the state rather than actually try to properly provide for people," Mr Fairbairn continued.
"We do not know how many of these homes are going to be affordable.
"The government has also backtracked on UC by caving under pressure to reduce the waiting time for first payments from six weeks to four.
"But it doesn't address the number of other issues that the scheme has. Now families with no money are expecting to be hungry over Christmas."
Government borrowing has increased by £500 million to £8 billion from last year, according to figures published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Since October last year, £147.8bn has been added to the national debt.
Mr Fairbairn said these figures show yet again that austerity policies are not working and that the government would have to abandon their deficit reduction target once more.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: "These figures are a reminder of the continued failure of both Philip Hammond and Theresa May over these past seven years.
"The deficit has still not been eliminated as they promised it would be by 2015 and the national debt continues to grow.
"The rise in the government's deficit over October shows once again that seven years of Tory spending cuts have caused pain and misery for millions with little to show for it.
“It further highlights why it is so vital that we see a change of course in the Budget, halting the growing emergency in our public services and ending their failed austerity policies.
"The next Labour government will set out a serious plan for the public finances with strategic investment underpinned by our Fiscal Credibility Rule, to help build a high-wage, high-skill economy for the many not the few.”
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