Socialist Worker

The spending review cuts at a glance

Issue No. 2225

Benefits

  • Osborne slapped a one-year time limit on contributions‑based Employment and Support Allowance (formerly incapacity benefit). This means a disabled or seriously ill person whose partner works, however low-paid their job may be, will lose their benefits after a year.
  • Up to £2,500 a year is being taken away from 58,000 Disability Living Allowance claimants who live in care homes.
  • Local authorities will get new “flexibility” on council tax benefit. This will mean hundreds of town halls coming up with their own complex systems—and returning us to the days of the poll tax as they chase people who can’t pay for their debts.


Jobs

  • George Osborne himself admitted some half a million public sector jobs are to be axed as a result of the spending review. The only thing that is certain is that this is an underestimate.


Councils

  • Local council spending, and therefore council jobs and services, will be slashed by a third. Moves to end “ringfencing” of government grants mean councils will be freed to slash whichever services they like, from children’s services to Aids support, to raise the cash.


Pensions

  • The age at which people can retire with a state pension will rise even more quickly than was already planned. Both men and women will retire at 66 from 2020—and the Tories announced that they want to raise the retirement age even further in the years to come.
  • Pension contributions by public sector workers will rise by a total of £1.8 billion in the next two years.


Housing

  • Funding for social housing was cut by £4 billion—slashing the existing budget by 60 percent.
  • On housing benefit, there was a move to link social housing rents to market rents. This will further encourage the cleansing of the poor from cities, pushing an estimated 200,000 out of London alone.
  • The total benefits any family will be able to get will be capped, leaving many who have long lived in areas like central London struggling to pay their rent.
  • The requirement to live in shared housing to get housing benefit, which the Tories had already imposed on young people, has been extended to people as old as 35.


Ringfencing

  • Osborne claims the NHS and schools have been protected from cuts. But he is lying.
  • The health service is already facing cuts as the Tories demand £20 billion “efficiency savings”. On top of this the tiny 0.1 percent above inflation increases won’t be enough to keep up with the real rising costs of new treatments.
  • In schools, 40,000 teachers will go as a result of the cuts, the government’s own education department says in a leaked report.
  • The other “ringfenced” department is the international aid budget. But the department’s “development priorities” are now Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Horn of Africa—which all happen to also be the priorities for US and British military action


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