Thursday, 17 March 2016

On the Spring 2016 Budget

Earlier today, the first budget of 2016 was announced. Since 2010, when George Osborne first became Chancellor of the Exchequer, every budget has been worse than the last, and this one proved to be no exception.

The cuts to taxes on fossil fuels, as well as cuts to corporation tax with no promise to invest more in catching wealthy tax avoiders and tax evaders, are clear signs that this Budget is once again on the side of the rich and powerful, yet the austerity lie is being maintained even with overwhelming evidence that austerity is a total farce. Cuts to capital gains tax, an increase on the threshold on ISAs, and an increase in income thresholds for (relatively) high-income earners are further evidence of this (the amounts concerned are earned by, for example, prosperous middle managers), and none of these measures are necessary when most people do not have over £15,000 saved in ISAs and when the majority of people in the UK earn less than the £26,000 annual average income.

Meanwhile, poor and vulnerable people in Britain are facing further pain under this latest budget, with the transition from DLA to PIP set to take away as much as £4.5 billion from people with disabilities and impairments over the next five years, compounding the latest cuts to Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) ESA payments. So hurtful are those cuts that the story of a Conservative disability activist resigning from the party over their cuts to vital disability benefits went viral within a matter of minutes. One cut that would be actually be useful to the UK has not been included in this budget, however. It is the cutting of the Trident nuclear deterrent, whose maintenance costs Britain £100 billion per year and which is useless, immoral, and illegal under the international Treaty for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to which the UK is a signatory.

The worst item of all in this budget is the plan to convert every state school in England into an academy by 2020, which could effectively end public accountability of the school system. The failures of academy schools as well as free schools, which have been cornerstones of the Conservatives' education plans since 2010, have been exposed numerous times. It must also be emphasised that the traditional 3.00-3.30 pm finish for schoolchildren in Britain, which the Conservatives foresee an end to with this dangerous and wrecking plan of theirs, is there for a good reason-so that they are not excessively stressed by their schooling, so that they can concentrate on extra-curricular activity, so that their parents can spend important quality time with them, and that they have time to gain an effective rest.

In summary, this is another Osborne-sponsored budget worthy of nothing but condemnation and scorn for its cruelty, its blatant biases, and its destructive plans.

Alan.



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