A nasty budget from the nasty party

by Daphne Liddle

THERE’S an election coming and you can tell by the tinsel adorning Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Budget Statement on Wednesday. But like the tinsel in so many shop windows it is only there to create an illusion — and in this case it is trying to disguise a mountain of excrement underneath.

Osborne has noticed the country is concerned about the NHS, so he has promised an extra £3.1 billion — but this is to be sent over a “multi- year” period — could be five years or 25 and with plenty of new budget statement in between to “modify” it.

Even if it does happen within a reasonable time, most of that money will end up in private hands through PFI and the continuing privatisation of various NHS services.

There’s a change to the stamp duty on house sales so that it increases according to the value of the property being exchanged. It will give some help to people buying and selling houses.

But the masses of young first-time buyers who could have benefited are now history. The vast majority of people in this country, young or old, have no hope at all of even being able to afford the deposit on their own let alone being able to buy.

The people who will get the benefit will be the speculative buy-to-let landlords who are making vast profits from people desperate to afford somewhere to rent because they cannot afford to buy.

Osborne is also once again raising the threshold at which workers start to pay income tax from £10,000-a-year to £10,600-a-year. It will save some workers a small amount but it will save high earners a lot more as a larger portion of their income comes under lower rates.

He boasts that employment records are at record levels but does not mention the thousands who are on zero contract jobs or trying to scrape by with a part-time job when they need a full-time wage.

His tax revenues are down on expectations because too many people are on too low wages and even VAT is down because we can’t afford to buy so much.

He is making a few cosmetic changes to try to stop big international internet companies hiding their profits offshore to avoid taxes. But no doubt they are ahead of the game and find some other way to dodge their responsibilities.

But it is when he looks to the future, after next May, that it gets really sinister: “By April 2014, departments working with HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office had delivered savings of over £14 billion compared to 2009-10.

“Building on these achievements, Autumn Statement announces the government will seek a further £10 billion of efficiency savings by 2017-18.

“This will be led by the Cabinet Office, working closely with HM Treasury and departments.”

Osborne has noticed there is a shortage of housing. So he plans to flog off “underused” public sector land to private developers to build new homes. The enclosure movement is still happening.

And what exactly is this “underused land”? School playing fields? National parks? Land around hospitals and schools? Land under government offices and town halls about to be closed because of the new wave of cuts? At the moment it still belongs to all of us and if it really is unused our councils could build homes on it and the land would still be ours.

The news for low-waged public sector workers remains bleaker than ever.

“To deliver reductions to departmental spending, the Government has also exercised firm restraint over public sector pay. Public sector pay restraint in this Parliament is expected to save an estimated £12 billion by 2014-15.

“The Government will need to continue to reform, and take tough decisions on, public sector pay while it continues to reduce the current budget deficit until 2017-18, and would expect to deliver commensurate savings.

“Budget 2014 announced the government would pilot pay bill control in two departments. This is a new method of pay restraint with control of the overall pay budget rather than limiting headline pay awards. ....”

This Autumn Budget Statement is further reason for working class people to do everything they can to ensure Osborne and Cameron are out of government next May. And as the last general election proved, voting for the Liberal Democrats because the Labour leadership is far from perfect only makes things worse. We must work for an outright Labour win.