Today, George Osborne announced the first budget of this Parliament, the first announced by a Conservative majority government for 19 years.
Here are just five reasons why this budget is so bad for many people in Britain:
1. Cuts to tax credits which so many families in work rely on. In London and other affluent areas where living costs are high, many people living on low wages cannot meet their basic needs without relying on tax credits.
2. The freezing of benefits and public sector pay will drive more and more people to desperation. There has been a below-inflation public sector pay for years now, and large numbers of public sector jobs have disappeared or have been outsourced to infamous private contractors like CAPITA or G4S. Other benefits, especially disability and out of work benefits, will be hit hard to the point where there will be even more needless deaths of vulnerable people under this government.
3. The compulsory national minimum wage increase will be almost worthless by the time it is implemented. The £9.00 per hour living wage (more for London) needs to be implemented now-the inflation that will have occurred by 2020 will make the increase almost meaningless especially when small businesses are getting no help to make sure they can meet this requirement without going under.
4. Limiting child tax credit is just a class-discriminating form of population control. Wealthy people, who individually (and on aggregate) consume much more than people are not wealthy, will not be affected by this at all and will easily be able to conceive as many children as they wish, whereas limiting tax credit is a form of unfairly limiting how many children families can have simply because they are not lucky enough to earn as much as others and punishes those who had no control over whether they would have twins/triplets/quadruplets etc or not.
5. The cut in corporation tax and breaks to upper middle class families shows whose side the Conservatives are really on (and have been on in living memory): At 20%, corporation tax in Britain is already much too low considering how larger corporations (alongside banks) were responsible for the financial mess we are still suffering from.
By contrast, here are five useful objectives an alternative and green budget can achieve for Britain:
1. Tackle the growing threat of artificial climate change before it gets too late. As has often been repeated, 'there is no economy on a dead planet.' We must place the issue of resource distribution, consumption, and how our activities affect the planet first, and adapt our economics to be sustainable and respectful of not only the planet's needs but ultimately the needs of most humans (i.e. not just a wealthy elite).
2. Make sure a living wage is introduced now and that people who need help get help now, and not have to wait until 2020. People's living needs and pressures will not wait-they need to be met as soon as possible, and we need more wealth equality now, not later.
3. An increase (rather than a decrease) in corporation tax for larger corporations, and a tax of financial transactions. Both of these would bring in billions of pounds of revenue and avoid having to make the proposed £12,000,000,000 of welfare cuts completely.
4. Cut the cost of living by bringing energy, utilities and public transport back into public hands. Britain has high living costs by European standards, especially in London because of the fact our railways and energy are still in private hands. The fact that Transport for London has taken control of a few suburban rail services in London is a useful step forward but all routes need to be in public hands and under public control to make a difference.
5. Instead of getting students into more debt, relieve them of this unfair debt altogether. 9% of £15,000 is £1,350 and 15% of £21,000 is £3,150-collectively, this could all instead be used to create more jobs and counter the deficit Britain has rather than have to be paid towards the Student Loans Company. Maintenance grants need to be kept so that young people are not put off university by the prospect of already enormous annual debts. The young generation, myself included (I am a 24 year old graduate wanting to take up postgraduate psychology education, who aims to be a psychologist one day), will become Britain's next generation of key innovators, leaders, thinkers, and shapers, and we deserve respect not unfair constraint and debt.
There is a better way ahead for Britain than what Gideon is planning-we need to keep on fighting for it until we get it.