Osborne’s Autumn Statement hails more austerity
For the rich, not the poor. Osborne does it again, says John Bowman
Osborne announced that Corporation Tax would be brought down to 21% – the same level as it is in the European tax-haven of Luxemburg. He also announced that the threshold for paying the higher 40% rate of income tax would be slightly increased.
Whilst new measures were announced to curb tax evasion – including reaching a deal with Switzerland’s banks, and a partial undoing of some HMRC cuts, little was said about the more serious issue of tax avoidance – a legal tactic used frequently by larger transnational companies to escape their obligations.
But the real story of the day was more benefits slashing – and again this comes on top of the existing policies which are likely to cause a poverty epidemic between next spring and autumn.
Despite the warnings over child poverty, unaffordable energy and heating bills, rent rises, hunger and homelessness the Tories decided to push ahead with a 1% welfare freeze across the board – with only a few exceptions – and this comes nowhere near the level of inflation.
So on top of existing council tax benefit cuts, the ‘bedroom tax’, the removal of housing benefits for the young, disability benefit cuts and reassessments, new JSA sanctions and a raft of other measures, almost all welfare payouts are to be reduced in value again.
The effect of this will be that the bottom 30% lose double what the top 30% will, as put by James Meadway at the NEF.
The Labour Party rightly pointed out the hypocrisy of a tax carrot for the rich to work, and a benefits stick to beat up the ‘striving’ poor – but Ed Balls also came out in support of a welfare freeze. He has blamed his shaky performance in the House of Commons on his stammer, but it seems that the real problem is that the Labour Party is lost for words. Unable to distance themselves from the Tories austerity strategy in any way but rhetoric.
Typically, mainstream news sources have focussed on whether the autumn statement policies will be successful in cutting the deficit, rather than the human and social impact that they will have. But they at least had the benefit of alerting the wider public to a simple fact: the government’s predictions on economic growth and deficit reduction were found to be wrong, and much worse than they had thought.
This shows the unstable nature of the economy as it currently stands, and in all likelihood, that predictions of growth could well turn out to be wrong again. If the capitalists get their way, the ‘period’ of austerity could well last indefinitely – and the only way to stop that is to fight it.
Cuts protests planned for weekend
UK Uncut have also called for a day of action against Starbucks, a company that has paid no tax for many years and is now attacking their staff through cuts in staff benefits and lunchbreaks.
And at a successful North-West region anticuts conference a few weeks ago, the call was made for a day of action against the cuts, which will see demonstrations take place in Manchester, Liverpool and Lancaster.
In the run up to this, Greater Manchester Anticapitalists worked with other activists to plan two banner drops in high-profile city locations.
The Manchester demo on Saturday will take place at 12.30pm, All Saints Park, where we are forming an anticapitalist bloc with others who see the system as the problem.