Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/759/16432
Them & Us
The front page headline of the Guardian called 1 April "The day that Britain changed". A number of the Tories' hated flagship policies are now in force, or due to be implemented later this month.
We get more cuts to jobs, services and benefits, while the rich get tax breaks and are handed privatised services to make a profit from. The 'them and us' system has never been so clear.
Council tax benefit
Council tax benefit, run by central government, has been replaced with council tax support, run by local authorities... with a 10% cut.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation says that 150,000 households will be £300 a year worse off. The cut will hit the worst off, basically meaning a huge council tax increase for the poorest - 300,000 benefit claimants could fall into poverty as a result.
58 local authorities are maintaining current levels of support - but many of these are financing this through cuts elsewhere.
Councillors should refuse to implement this cut or any others and spearhead a mass campaign to demand more funding from central government - just like socialist-led Liverpool City Council did successfully in the 1980s.
50p tax rate
While we get hit with the bedroom tax and cuts to council tax benefits, the rich are having cuts too... to how much tax they have to pay.
The rate of tax for top earners will be reduced from 50p to 45p in every pound earned. Chancellor George Osborne can't quite make up his mind - it's either because nobody pays the tax anyway (because he won't make them) or because it will encourage investment in job creation (it won't).
The super-rich should pay high taxes and the extra revenue used to invest in jobs and services in the public sector.
Primary Care trusts are being disbanded and replaced with Clinical Commissioning Groups (GP consortia) which will now be responsible for £60 billion of the NHS budget.
They will commission local services from 'any willing provider' - including voluntary and private bodies.
Government privatisers claim this will make sure the best service is provided. They said the same about trains and utilities.
They claim GPs will be at the heart of the system and this will benefit the patients they know so well.
But only a few will actually be involved and the system will be dominated by corporate giants who will drive down services in order to offer lower prices and win the contracts.
We need action from NHS trade unions, backed up by community campaigns, to defend a nationalised, free, publicly run healthcare system.
Cap on benefit increases
Increases in benefits, previously linked to inflation, will now be capped at 1%. With inflation running at nearly 3%, this is a cut to income for the poorest.
While the pay of chief executives continues to rise and more and more banks reveal shocking lists of those paid over £1 million, the low-paid and unemployed will struggle more and more to afford basic necessities.
From 15 April the benefits that a household receives will be capped at £26,000. It is estimated that cuts to benefits will push 200,000 more children into poverty.
People shouldn't complain so much though, minister for work and pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, assures us that we're mistaken and actually the cuts are perfectly fair.
In fact, he could live on £53 a week himself. Hundreds of thousands rushed to sign an online petition asking him to give it a go.
We need benefits that are enough to live on - why should those out of work or super-low-paid because of this government's policies have to live in poverty? And the best way to reduce the benefit bill is not to cap benefits but to cap rents and raise the minimum wage.
Disability Living Allowance
Disability Living Allowance will be replaced by Personal Independence Payments (PIPs), including a cut of more than £2 billion a year.
PIPs are assessed face-to-face by hated contractor Atos. They examine people's ability to do day-to-day tasks, without taking note of conditions which vary at different times.
By 2015/16 500,000 people will lose PIPs. The new criteria also mean only people unable to walk more than 20 metres unaided will be eligible for financial help towards mobility.
Paralympic gold medalist swimmer Tara Flood said: "The PIP process is fundamentally flawed. I can't imagine anyone delivering it in a way that isn't de-humanising.
The impact will be so shocking. Twenty per cent of disabled people who receive this support are going to lose it... I'm terrified."
Thousands have lost their entitlement to legal aid as maximum household income to be eligible has been reduced to £32,000.
Anyone earning over £14,000 will be subject to a means test. The cut will particularly affect access to family law, immigration and employment cases.
The government is at pains to stress that it's looking after the elderly - pensioners are protected from the council tax benefit cuts, for example.
But nobody is spared from the Con-Dems' axe. Changes in the way tax-free allowances are calculated will leave 3.6 million people £68 a year worse off and 360,000 who turn 65 this year £268 worse off.
Of course, everyone is suffering from limited financial support from the state. The wife of the new governor of the Bank of England, is finding her £5,000 a week housing allowance very difficult to work with - she complained that rents are just too high to be able to find anything for that amount.
This is while a cap on housing benefit is being introduced that amounts to one tenth of that and will see 56,000 families each lose £4,836 a year.
Solving the housing crisis requires an immediate cap on rents and investment in a huge programme of council house building.
'Black April' introduced some devastating cuts. But, if the Con-Dems get their way, this will be just the start.
After last month's budget, the Treasury wrote to all government departments to tell them to prepare for up to 10% more cuts which may be announced in the June spending review.
We've also had predictions that economic recovery will take many years. The Bank of England has even told major UK banks to raise £25 billion if they want to guard against likely losses.
The majority in Britain and around the world can't put up with 'many years' more. We have to fight back now to stop all cuts, bring down the government and build a socialist alternative to austerity.
We have to fight back now to stop all cuts, bring down the government and build a socialist alternative to austerity
In The Socialist 3 April 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party workplace news
Fighting the Bedroom Tax
Socialist Party reports and campaigns