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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 April 2003

Brown's Budget

Low growth and high deficits end Chancellor's surplus

JUST AFTER we go to press, on 9 April, chancellor Gordon Brown presents his budget. The financial media's 'experts' think it will be a 'dull' budget - but then it's not the experts who'll be paying the cost.

National Insurance (NI) rose by 1p in the on 6 April. This hidden tax rise hits hardest at low-wage and middle-income earners. It's supposedly to pay for small and very belated public service increases such as rises in NHS spending.

What's more, many NHS workers, threatened with back-door privatisation and foundation hospitals which could mean big profits for private entrepreneurs remain unconvinced that much has improved.

That scepticism is mirrored within the general population - in a MORI poll last weekend, 36% said they thought the health service would continue to deteriorate over the next few years compared to 29% who think things are getting better in the NHS. Last year, most of the public believed that the service would improve.

This is unlikely to get better as Brown's lucky days of easy financial surpluses are over. He had already cut estimates of economic growth. In last November's mini-budget, he cut the anticipated rate of growth to 2.5%-3% for 2003 and 3-3.5% for 2004. Less than six months later Brown will probably cut these forecasts by another 0.5%.

Lower production means less tax revenue. In 2001 Brown gave back over 11 billion to rich business executives in one year through corporation tax cuts alone. Then last November Brown predicted that 3.4 billion less income tax and 3.7 billion less corporation tax would come in than he'd hoped. This is going to get worse next year.

Even worse, as economic growth falters, the budget deficit rises. Brown will now have to increase government borrowing. Last year the chancellor thought the deficit would total 13 billion. Last November he predicted a rise to 20.1 billion in 2002/3, 24 billion next year and 19 billion the year after.

Now Brown is likely to be borrowing nearly 30 billion with a predicted deficit of 28 billion in 2003/04 and rising still further to 31 billion the year after.

Brown still puts his trust in capitalism to deliver new booms. He's also assuming that the big companies are going to be paying their taxes. The capitalist class themselves aren't so sure about the boom and even less certain that they'll be paying their tax.

As the article below shows, Brown is facing a weakened world economy and low growth. How long will it be before capitalism demands bigger spending cuts and/or huge tax rises?

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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In The Socialist 12 April 2003:

It's Occupation Not Liberation

Privatising The NHS

Call Centre Workers Fight Job Cuts

Nursery Nurses On Strike

Money for services, Not for War!

War In Iraq - The Endgame

US Plans To Recolonise Iraq

Brown's Budget

USA: Problems in the world's engine room

Iraq - Imperialism's Grim Legacy

Standing For The Millions, Not The Millionaires: Vote Socialist Alternative

Repression And War Is Fuelling Palestinian Anger


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