NHS will still fall far short of Euro average
GORDON Brown promised a much bigger than expected increase in health spending over the next four years. He said health spending will rise by 6.1 percent each year for four years. Every extra penny for the NHS is testament to the determined protests and struggles by health workers and ordinary people demanding a decent health service. But the money is still not enough to meet Tony Blair’s previous promise to hit the European average of health spending by the year 2006.
As commentator Peter Jay said, “To match that would need an increase of 9 to 10 percent a year.” We should also be cautious about Brown’s figures for health spending. The government’s previously heralded 21 billion figure for increased health spending from 1999 to 2002 was a con. It came from “triple counting” the figures each year.
The real figure was 10.3 million. Even that took no account of general inflation or the higher inflation associated with medical technology. The government has also tied the new health spending to “modernisation” and “efficiency”. The details of this were to be announced after Socialist Worker went to press.
But for New Labour “modernisation” has been tied to more Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes, more hospital closures and fewer beds. PFI schemes mean the government handing over billions of pounds to private companies who then rip off a fortune from the NHS. At the same time PFI schemes will cut hospital beds by 28 percent, and mean fewer nurses and health staff.
As Andrew Dilnot from the Institute of Fiscal Studies says, “What we will see is more and more privatisation at the margin.” The 1 billion Gordon Brown promised for education is derisory. It goes nowhere near to meeting the huge lack of resources in our schools and colleges. It is time to step up the fight for an end to PFI in our hospitals and in education, and force the government to tax the rich.
Brown’s budget: not one mention of jobs crisis
Hidden handouts for businessmen
CHANCELLOR GORDON Brown claimed his budget this week was about priorities. Brown clearly showed where New Labour’s priorities lie. Brown did not mention the word “Longbridge” at all in his 50 minute speech. There was not a single measure in his budget to help save the thousands of jobs at threat in the West Midlands or elsewhere. Instead, like a Tory chancellor, Brown’s budget was full of hidden handouts to the richest businessmen.
Brown said he wanted to “remove the old barriers to investment and enterprise”. Instead of taxing the rich, Brown virtually abolished Capital Gains Tax-one of the main ways governments have taken money from the richest. It will be slashed from 40 percent to 10 percent after four years. Brown boasted, “With the lowest corporate tax rates for businesses ever and the lowest ever Capital Gains Tax rates for long term investors, Britain is now the place for companies to invest, grow and expand in.”
City fat cats will celebrate
“BRITAIN’S super-rich have never had it so good,” reports this year’s Sunday Times list of Britain’s richest 1,000 people. The collective wealth of the top 1,000 rich has reached 146 billion- up by 31 billion from last year, a rise of 27 percent. This is the highest ever rise since the list was first published 12 years ago.
The rich have massively increased their wealth since New Labour came to office. Today the top 200 rich have a combined wealth of 95.4 billion. That is nearly double the 48.3 billion the top 200 were worth ten years ago. There are now 26 billionaires in Britain compared with just nine a decade ago. Richest The three richest people in Britain today, two businessmen and a landed aristocrat, are worth over 10 billion. The Sunday Times admits the list is an underestimate of the true wealth of the rich.
Imperialist tensions are heating up
More Islamophobia in the Tory party