You probably remember David Cameron famously telling the country back in 2010 that, “We are all in this together”. So how has that been working out? Record numbers using food banks, a cap on welfare, cuts to services, bedroom tax, privatisation and so on; and meanwhile pay has barely risen. The richest 10% of UK households hold 44% of all wealth, whereas the botom 50% own just 9.5%.
Austerity doesn’t touch those with power and money. The wealthy don’t turn to loan sharks, they don’t need social services, they opt out of the NHS; and they don’t have to choose between food, warmth or rent. The high earners who were paying a 50% top rate of tax before the election were given a tax cut shortly afterwards; and the pay of company CEOs is now something like 140 times that of the average employee. Austerity is breeding greater inequality.
Indeed, the poor pay a higher proportion of their income in taxes than do the wealthy when all forms of tax are considered.
And now Osborne has promised, should the Tories win the next election, to deliver a further freeze on a range on benefits for the more vulnerable in society, raising the prospect of yet more children and adults living in poverty.
Yet we’re told the economy is growing. So where has all the money gone? Not to cutting the deficit, because that is now bigger than ever, and not to improving living standards, as these have fallen far worse than expected…
But back to that same speech, made to the Conservative party conference in 2010: Cameron also said, “It is right that those with broader shoulders bare a larger share of the burden of reducing the deficit.”
So all in it together then…I don’t think so.