by Daphne Liddle

CHANCELLOR George Osborne prepared us well for this horrendous budget, delivered last Tuesday. We knew well in advance it was going to be swingeing. And the media did its share, repeating the Tory mantras “tough but fair” and “we’re all in it together” over and over again as though saying it enough times would make it so.

But this budget is very, very unfair and the full impact on those on low and middle incomes will take a while to be felt fully.

The biggest hits on low income people come in the form of a rise in VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent.

This will raise prices and inflation.

And many of these low income people will be public servants, awaiting either a two-year pay freeze or redundancy, as all Government departments except health and overseas aid will have to cut their budgets by 25 per cent!

Low paid private sector workers are unlikely to fare any better. Middle income families will be hit by cuts a child tax credits and child benefit.

Osborne has put in some apparent sweeteners: those earning less than £10,000 a year will cease to pay income tax altogether — but they only paid a few pence anyway. Shifting the start threshold for paying tax will benefit everyone else by taking the first £10,000 they earn out of all tax calculations.

People will gain a few pennies but will lose far more to the rise in VAT.


Likewise the pensioners; they will at last achieve their goal of pensions linked to average earnings as promised by Labour’s last budget. But since Thatcher broke the link in 1979 the value of pensions relative to earnings has fallen to a derisory level — and earnings are not likely to rise much, if at all.

The rise of the pension age to 66 will be speeded up.

The meanest cut of all has to be to disability living allowance. This is currently non-means-tested and paid to people with disabilities whether they are in work or on benefits as a recognition that being disabled incurs extra costs — special equipment, special diets, help with housework and higher general living costs for those who cannot travel from shop to shop looking for bargains or who have to pay for shopping to be delivered.

Now claimants will have to seek further medical tests to qualify and the amount they get will be subject to a doctor’s estimate of how much they need.

But claimants have to be registered disabled in the first place; it is already very hard to get disability living allowance.

The threat to attendance allowance will hit those carers who currently save the state billions by staying at home to look after the long-term sick and disabled.

The VAT rise will hit retailers very hard and we can look forward to many more shops closing — and the factories and farms that supply them will also be hit.

This will split the Liberal Democrat supporters — many of whom are small retailers.

But the biggest crime of all is trying to convince the people of Britain that the Government’s debt is somehow their responsibility to resolve and that everyone must resign themselves to a degree of hardship. The greedy irresponsible bankers caused this mess but they are facing no hardship at all.

Their personal wealth is growing faster than ever. They ignore all attempts to restrain their recklessness from either Labour or Con-Dem governments. They control the governments; they are the ruling class.

We have a ruling class that is highly intelligent and functional at making itself richer by psychopathically callous and disinterested at the fate of the rest of humanity.

They would want the cuts even if there was no economic crisis because they are ideologically opposed to any kind of government regulation or public sector support for the less well off.

Fortunately millions of workers are not taken in by their “we all in this together” lies. Throughout the country last Tuesday there were protests by people who are standing up and saying they refuse to pay for the mess created by the bankers.

In Colchester the New Communist Party banner was flying outside the Town Hall where workers and students protested against the budget cuts.

Unison, Unite and Trades Council members were present at the demonstration. Many young mothers with children signed the petition against the cuts.

Police were present, but were supportive when security officers from the Town Hall said the banners should be taken down. Mike Fletcher, vice chair of the Trades Council and NCP industrial organiser said: “We have a democratic right to protest, and display our banners.”

Protesters also gathered in Lewisham to voice their anger. And in Parliament Square hundreds joined the peace camp protesters, making the point that scrapping Trident and pulling our troops out of Afghanistan was be a much more acceptable way for the Government to make serious spending cuts.