Austerity isn't working: There is an alternative
By PCS (Public and Commercial Services Union (UK))
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The government's policies are failing because the public sector is not the problem, and neither is there too much taxation or red tape on businesses.
Instead of solving the crisis, these policies are making it worse:
Because women are more likely to work in the public sector, to use public services, and to receive child benefit and tax credits, the cuts are hitting women disproportionately. Women’s unemployment is the highest it has been since the 1980s.
- Cutting public sector jobs means higher unemployment and fewer people in work paying taxes
- Freezing public sector pay and higher unemployment means less disposable income to be spent in the private sector, with a knock-on effect on private sector jobs
- Cutting business taxes means less revenue to close the deficit and pay off our debt.
The government is presenting its plans as simply ‘dealing with the deficit’, but that is a smokescreen for another agenda. The government wants to cut and privatise public services because it believes in a market for even essential goods and services; that business should be free to extract profit from any public service, even schools, hospitals, welfare and prisons.
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In recent years wages have been falling. Inflation has been higher than the annual increase in pay. This is true in the public and private sectors. This fall in real wages means we are able to buy less with our money than before, as we have less disposable income.
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Redistribution: to the 1%
Why is this happening and where is the money going? At the same time that wages and other income has been squeezed for the majority of people, a few people at the top are doing better than ever. Average pay for the top directors of Britain’s biggest companies has increased by an eye-watering 49% in the past year alone. A few at the top are getting very rich by cutting pay and pensions for the rest.
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A banking system that works for people not profit
Some of the banks that were bailed out by the government are still using loopholes to avoid paying tax, and are advising their corporate and wealthy clients how to as well. They are still paying their directors six and seven figure bonuses on top of fat cat wages.
They have also laid-off thousands of their own staff to maintain the greed at the top. It feels like we have nationalised the debts while the profits are privatised.
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There is an economic crisis – one of rising unemployment, inequality and economic stagnation. Austerity isn’t working, and is not producing the economic growth that the government promised it would. But it is not just growth that matters. If we value people’s lives as more important than simply making more transactions, then the relevant tests for judging an economic recovery are:
These are the tests against which we should measure the government’s economic strategy and proposals.
- Is unemployment falling?
- Are people's living standards rising?
- Is inequality reducing?
- Is the tax gap closing?
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