THE NEW WORKER

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 19th May 2017


Cruel cuts that cost more than they save

THE CYBER attack that brought chaos to the NHS is yet another example of the false economies of Tory austerity packages costing more in the long run to put right the damage done — though the damage to human lives may never be put right.

The Tories last year tried to blame the junior doctors’ strike for postponed operations and clinic appointments, but their own cuts to security for NHS computer systems, which are still operating on Windows XP — the system introduced in 2001 and superseded by Windows Vista in 2007, and which Microsoft stopped supporting in 2014 — caused far more damage.

The system was wide open to attack. There are other systems that would have been far safer and some of them free to use. But no doubt the contracts for the tailor-made NHS computer system were won by the powerful lobbyists of the biggest company in the field. Even so, it took years and many £millions to get the system right.

The notorious ‘bedroom tax’ has also cost the Government far more than it has saved. It is a cut in housing benefit to claimants deemed to be living in homes too big for their needs. It has forced many to leave council homes to find smaller homes only available in the private rented sector — where the rents are far higher than those they paid as council tenants in a bigger home and so they have to claim more housing benefit than before. Many have been unable to find other homes and have ended up trying to struggle on a seriously reduced income. Under these circumstances claimants often get into arrears and eventually get evicted — ending up on the streets, losing their jobs, or in homeless accommodation — adding far more to local authority costs than if they had simply been left to enjoy living in their original homes.

Flood defences are another area where Tory cuts have caused far more damage than they have saved — and left people with wrecked homes as a result.

The years 2014 and 2015 saw extensive flooding throughout Britain — and with prospects of further flooding likely because of global warming the Tories were forced to promise funds to bring flood defences back up to standard.

But those promises were quietly abandoned later, and a year ago the Guardian reported that many of Britain’s flood defences are being abandoned or maintained to minimal level.

These cuts are predicted to leave almost twice as many households at “significant risk” within 20 years, according to a leaked document submitted to ministers.

The cuts in education spending are leaving a whole new generation ill-equipped to cope with the demands of a rapidly changing world. When skilled technical workers are needed they are simply imported from countries that spend more on their education systems. Meanwhile, those who have been let down by our education system face a lifetime of scrabbling for low-paid jobs in shops, restaurants, delivery companies and care homes — going from one job to another on zero-hours contracts with no security and being ripped off by agencies.

The damage to the economy can be measured but the damage to lives cannot.

Yet Theresa May appears to be confident that the victims of Tory policy will go on voting for her government. Her own election campaigning continues to be a disaster as Tory attempts to control and stage-manage interaction with the voting public stagger from one disaster to another.

Her appearance last Monday on a live Facebook question and answer session, as presenter Robert Peston fired a list of questions from the public to her, saw her lie repeatedly. But she did not fool the public; her answers drew a flood of angry-face emojis.

She tried to deny that absolute child poverty is growing — but that is the case only if you use the Tories’ new measure of judging child poverty. Currently, overall child poverty now stands at four million and is expected to rise by another 1.3 million by 2010 through Government changes to benefits and taxes — unless of course Corbyn is elected in three weeks time.

That’s a total of 5.3 million young lives that need to be rescued on 8th June from being wrecked by Tory cuts.