Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/694/13160
Stop the government austerity juggernaut
Speaking on the BBC's Politics Show business secretary Vince Cable hypocritically reiterated the government's line that "the most vulnerable people in society should be protected in these very difficult conditions." Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg had earlier said the government would "not balance the books on the backs of the poor."
Odd then that ministers are considering ending the rise in benefits linked to inflation and threatening to cut benefits to the working poor if claimants don't work longer hours.
What the government ignores is the fact that many workers (a record 1.25 million workers) have been forced to work part-time because they cannot find full-time jobs.
Chancellor George Osborne, according to the Financial Times, is looking into only increasing benefits in line with average earnings growth (around 2.5%) instead of inflation (5.2% in September), or simply freezing payments.
The Institute of Fiscal Studies calculates that freezing all benefits and pensions would save the government £10 billion and linking benefits to wage increases would save £5 billion.
Clearly the government is looking to hammer the poor to plug the budget deficit caused by bank bailouts and shrinking tax revenues.
In 2013, under new government rules, those working 16 hours a week who can currently claim housing and childcare benefits without further conditions, will be expected to work 35 hours a week and raise their weekly earning to £212.80 or lose benefits.
Single parents with children between five and 13 years will be forced to raise their working hours to 20 a week, with the target of earning £120.
These changes will make the current welfare regime more draconian than most countries in Europe and the USA.
Given the high levels of unemployment due to the government's cuts and the economic downturn inevitably many more vulnerable and poor people will become victims of the government's austerity juggernaut.
In The Socialist 16 November 2011:
Fighting the cuts
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
The Socialist - Readers' comments