Austerity cuts

Clearing the poor away

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With the poorest set to suffer most from cuts, Danny Dorling looks at the damage the spending review will do to the lives of millions.

The comprehensive spending review announced the start of a new era of engineered social polarisation: a further separation of the lives, hopes, homes and chances of rich and poor.

One of the first announcements was that new tenants of council and other social housing will now have to pay at least 80 percent of market prices in rent. At one stroke millions of low paid families are to be excluded from living in hundreds of towns, cities and villages where they no longer earn enough to "deserve" to be.

An assault on us all

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Joseph Choonara opens our coverage of the spending review, arguing that George Osborne's plans expose the lie that "we're all in it together".


Photo: Guy Smallman

The Osborne Axe has fallen. The chancellor's spending review heralds the deepest assault on the public sector since the Second World War. George Osborne's key lines of attack give the lie to his claim that "we are all in it together".

There is an alternative

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With massive cuts looming debates are beginning about the best way to respond. Should Labour councils refuse to implement Tory cuts?

A debate is opening up about how best to respond to the attacks on the welfare state. I was invited to speak at an anti-cuts meeting in Lambeth recently and a lively argument broke out between members of the Labour Party which took me back to the 1980s - what should a Labour council do when faced with budget cuts?

Welcome to "austerity countryside"

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The environmental record of a government that once described itself as "the greenest ever" is already deeply worrying.

Cuts in the budget for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have been announced that could fundamentally change our natural areas.

Among plans being considered are the privatisation of nature reserves and the Forestry Commission, a reduction of grants to the body that manages Britain's canals, and cuts so severe that Natural England, the country's main conservation organisation, could lose a third of its staff.

Tories declare war

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The Con-Dem coalition has launched an all-out assault on the public sector and the welfare state in the name of reducing the budget deficit. What will be the impact of these austerity measures? Judith Orr looks at the risk of a double dip recession - and the possibilities of resistance.

It started with the banks going bust and ended up with closing playgrounds. Or as Tory education secretary Michael Gove put it, "Play has to make its contribution to tackling the deficit." Today the economic crisis is being played out in the lives and meagre budgets of millions of ordinary people in Britain as the sheer scale of attacks planned by the government starts to become concrete.

To cut or not to cut?

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With up to 50 percent cuts looming, it looks like the party's over at the "Ministry of Fun".

Jeremy Hunt, the new minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), chose to begin his first speech on the arts by comparing himself to Shakespeare's incarnation of Henry IV. "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown," he chortled (although no one else did).

Brutal budget to entrench inequality

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The first budget of the "progressive" coalition government saw George Osborne promise massive cuts for the poorest in society while offering tax relief for businesses, writes Danny Dorling.

George Osborne - flanked by two Liberal Democrats - spoke with the confidence that you would expect of a man with the pedigree of aristocracy. David Cameron had positioned himself behind Osborne so that the camera could not see him as the chancellor gave out the bad news. Thus "Dave" was nowhere to be seen as the axe was wielded across the welfare state, or when it was announced that VAT was to be increased to 20 percent or that poor pregnant women would have the special benefits being paid to them cut. Dave's wife is pregnant.

Budget is "Vintage Thatcher"

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The budget was a big gamble for the ruling class. The government has gone on an all out assault against the working class.

They want to shift the burden of the crisis, with great speed and thoroughness, onto the shoulders of the most vulnerable in society. Derek Simpson, leader of the Unite union, called it "Vintage Thatcher" and even Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf described it as a "bloodbath".

Osborne's references to protecting the poorest were pathetic sops to the supposed sensitivities of the Lib Dems - whose collusion made this onslaught possible. They also say everything about where Osborne thinks public opinion is.

Axe finally falls in Tory budget

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"The Tories can reduce the deficit without a rise in VAT," boasted George Osborne to the Daily Telegraph on 6 April. "The plans we set out involved around 80 percent of the work coming from spending restraint... The tax increases are already in place and the plans do not include an increase in VAT."

Honesty was clearly not a prerequisite to securing the keys to 11 Downing Street. But then history is merely repeating itself. In 1979 the then Tory chancellor Geoffrey Howe declared, "We have absolutely no intention of doubling VAT." Strictly speaking, Howe did not lie. VAT did not quite double, as it went up from 8 percent to 15 percent.

Cracks and crisis in the Eurozone

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The leaders of eurozone countries are desperate to avert a full blown currency crisis, but they are divided by conflicting interests and fearful of workers fighting back.

"It was a stand-up argument. He was shouting and bawling," said one Brussels official. "It was Sarkozy on steroids," said a European diplomat. The European ruling class were in disarray as another, potentially even more damaging, episode of the world crisis unfolded in the eurozone.

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