Spending Review: We’re not all in this together

The poorest will have to shoulder the biggest burden as a result of today’s Spending Review by George Osborne.

George Osborne: Singling out the poorest for further cuts...

George Osborne: Singling out the poorest for further cuts…

  • £3.7 billion cuts to benefits of the poorest
  • £1 billion tax increases for better off
  • Austerity and spending cuts extended for a further 2 years

Yet again, George Osborne has reinforced social division, by trying to justify a further £3.7 billion cuts to the incomes of the poorest by using divisive language designed to drive a wedge between ‘strivers’ and ‘shirkers.’

In capping benefit increases – for working families as well as those out of work – the Chancellor has decided to shrink the deficit by squeezing the incomes of those who are already struggling to make ends meet.   Families reliant on benefits will be 6% worse off in real terms by 2015, and cumulatively loose a staggering £3.7 billion at a time when food and fuel bills are rising fast.

“A fresh round of benefit cuts pulls the rug from under the feet of those already on the edge of destitution.” Oxfam

The Chancellor announced a cut to pension tax relief for the wealthy – which in contrast, is anticipated to bring in just £1bn – almost four times less.

Tackling tax avoidance – a good start but much more to be done

In response to over 1,000 emails sent by Church Action on Poverty supporters in the past four weeks – in addition to the well publicised tax dodging antics of Starbucks, Google and Amazon – and a growing torrent of criticism in the media and parliament – had heaped pressure on the Chancellor to bring in measures to crackdown on tax avoidance.  The measures announced today are a good start, but will claw back just £2bn of the £35bn the Government estimate are dodged in taxes each year…

Church leaders attack spending cuts and welfare reform

Meanwhile, earlier in the week, Church leaders in the north of England joined together to condemn government spending cuts and welfare reform that is ‘stigmatising’ communities.

Led by the the Bishop of Bradford, the Right Reverent Nick Baines, 30 leading religious figures signed an open letter to the prime minister, the chancellor, the deputy prime minister and the Work and Pensions secretary, detailing their anxieties over how the reforms and cuts were playing out in their communities.

The Bishop of Bradford said the government needed to know how its proposals were impacting on people who live outside London.

“They’re not just dealing with figures in Whitehall, this is having an impact on people every day and the poorest are paying the highest,” he said.

” Welfare reforms mean the poorest people are getting poorer, while the richest people are getting richer – and that’s a scandal. In Bradford we have 38,000 children living below the poverty line. That is something we cannot remain silent about.”

If this isn’t something you can remain silent about – then sign up for Church Action on Poverty’s Close the Gap campaign here!

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One Response to Spending Review: We’re not all in this together

  1. Jo Chamberlain says:

    I’m shocked by the ruthless way people on low-incomes have been treated by this Government, including in yesterday’s Autumn Statement. I’m even more shocked that so many ordinary working people think that Government action to cut away welfare support is a good idea. This view is summed up by the comments of Conservative MP Kris Hopkins: “There are a lot of people out there working very hard who are annoyed that there are other people who are not working and could be.”

    At this point, I would like make a few observations. Firstly, the New Statesman points out that “sixty per cent of the real-terms cut to benefits (they will rise by just 1 per cent for three years) falls on working households. A working family on £20,000 with children will lose £279 a year from next April.” Secondly, as pointed out in a letter from church leaders in the north to the government “structural unemployment makes it impossible for many to get the jobs they need for themselves and their families.” And thirdly, according to the Office for National Statistics, 10.5% of those who are working would like more hours but can’t get them. That is, 3.05 million people, a rise of nearly 1 million people since 2008.

    People on benefits are not a drain on our society. They are workers, often public sector workers looking after our health or our children, or people who would like to be, but there are not enough jobs. The welfare system is meant to be social security, security for our society so that those in need will be taken care of. We all provide for this safety net, and we may all one day be in need of it. Our stretched economic resources means that, “most of us are only one or two pay packets away from having no money”, a comment repeated here by Carol Midgley from The Times following her interview with food bank organiser Julie-Anne Wanless.

    Let’s treat the fellow members of our society with respect, and trust that when the time comes, and we need it, the safety net of the welfare system is still big enough to support us.

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