CHANCELLOR George Osborne’s eighth austerity budget followed a familiar pattern of bluster and proclamation to hide abject failure.
Mr Osborne said in 2010 the deficit would be eliminated by now. It has gone down by little more than a third. He also said he would get debt down. When he came into office it was £800 million, today it is £1.56 trillion. Mr Osborne has accumulated more debt than every Labour chancellor combined. His single biggest revenue raiser over the next five years is the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) cut for the disabled of £4.2 billion. This money is taken from the disabled to fund the Capital Gains Tax cut for the very wealthiest. Once again Mr Osborne is robbing from the vulnerable in order to reward Tory donors with tax cuts.
The effect of Tory austerity, particularly on children, has been horrendous. The UK has a child poverty rate of 25 per cent, the second worst in the developed world. Two million people are reliant on food banks. Victorian era diseases not seen for 100 years, such cholera, scurvy and scarlet fever, are on the rise. A record number of people are sleeping rough and living standards have seen their longest continuous drop since the 1870s.
Mr Osborne as Chancellor has been a disaster. He has presided over a looting of the UK Treasury to keep a corrupt financial system afloat. He gets away with it thanks to a combination of Tory tribalism, media complicity and unearned privilege.
Gillespie Terrace, Dundee
I am extremely concerned about the UK government’s repeated assaults on disability benefits and social care funding.
Disabled people are already struggling to make ends meet and are twice as likely to be living in poverty. Yet rather than increasing life chances for disabled people, the government is cutting the financial lifelines that are designed to help them meet the extra costs they face.
These cuts seem to be driven by a desire to make short-term savings rather than implementing a long-term solution for people with disabilities.
We are in danger of classifying those who need support as second-class citizens and that’s why the debate around disability benefits is not just about cuts, it is about eroding people’s independence, dignity and their place in society.
It is about time Chancellor George Osborne started reducing the barriers facing the disabled rather than the benefits on which they rely.
Deputy chief executive of deafblind charity, SenseLondon