George Osborne announced that his plan for the economy wasn’t working even on his own terms in his somewhat wintery autumn statement today, Wednesday.
His solution was even more cuts and attacks on workers and poor people.
He told MPs, “Yes, the deficit is still far too high for comfort. We cannot relax our efforts to make our economy safe.
“But Britain is heading in the right direction. The road is hard but we're making progress.”
On top of his existing targets for massive cuts, Osborne keeps adding more. He increased the public sector cuts by a further 1 percent next year and 2 per cent the year after. Local councils get a new 2 percent cut.
There are yet more of the Whitehall “efficiency savings” that have already meant £12 billion in cuts.
Osborne claimed he was doing this to fund infrastructure spending. But in reality this means throwing money at PFI projects such as high speed rail.
Yet again Osborne cut tax on companies’ profits by 1 percent. That means that when the bosses do bother to pay tax they will now pay just 21 per cent from April 2014. This compares with 29 percent in Germany, 33 percent in France and 40 percent in the US.
He gloated, “This is the lowest rate of any major western economy. It is an advert for our country that says: come here, invest here, create jobs here, Britain is open for business.”
Osborne also gave the bosses £1.5 billion in export grants and put £1 billion into the banks to give to business.
In a little gift to his wealthy mates, he also added a 1 percent rise in the threshold at which top-rate tax has to be paid. Capital gains tax allowance rises by 1 percent to over £11,000.
Meanwhile the economy is forecast to shrink this year by 0.1 percent—a fall back from a previous forecast of 0.8 percent growth. The growth forecast for the next five years was also cut.
The Office for Budget Responsibility predicts the chancellor will miss his targets by one year. Osborne now claims that he will meet the target over the coming five years.
In a similar fantasy prediction the government predicts unemployment will peak at 8.3 percent, down from an earlier forecast of 8.7 percent.
Even the bosses’ Financial Times said the poor have been hit “pretty damn hard” by the cuts to benefits.
The Tories had leaked that they would limit benefits and tax credits increases to 1 percent for a year. In fact Osborne announced that the cut will be for three years. That measure alone is a £3.6 billion cut from benefits.
In another nasty attack, national pay bargaining for teachers will be scrapped (see below). He is replacing this with performance related pay. He backed off from regional pay in the civil service and the NHS for now. But there was a threat of using existing flexibility to bring in yet more changes.
Osborne also confirmed the creation of an alternative gas department to oversee developments in “fracking”. There will be a single office to regulate the production of shale gas. He is to consult on giving fracking firms tax breaks.
So while Osborne’s figures are off, it’s business as usual—make us pay for the crisis.
Performance pay is attack on teachers
Tory chancellor George Osborne has announced he will scrap the current national pay scales for teachers. He wants teachers’ pay to be linked to performance from September next year.
This is a serious attack that will pave the way for more bullying observations and appraisals. It will increase the stress that workers already face in schools and could lead to huge disparity in teachers’ pay across Britain.
Teachers in the NUT and NASUWT unions are already engaged in industrial action short of strikes over workload, pay, pensions and conditions. The unions need to escalate their action to stop Osborne’s new attack.
Nick Grant is a member of the NUT’s national executive committee (NEC). He told Socialist Worker, “The NUT NEC meets on Thursday of next week. We have no choice but to announce a series of national strikes against this draconian attack on our pay.
“This is about reducing the overall pay bill in this corner of the public sector as swiftly as possible. And it is about hardening up the bully’s charter that Tory education secretary Michael Gove’s new appraisal scheme represents.”
Osborne’s attack on teachers’ pay could galvanise hundreds of thousands of teachers across Britain into action against the Tories. The NASUWT and NUT are to meet to discuss their response.
“The question of unity is vital here,” said Nick. “I hope other unions will join the battle.”