Reposted from Public & Commercial Services (PCS) Union website
While talking up the prospects for economic growth, which the Office for Budget Responsibility said reflected higher immigration, he announced plans for a further £25 billion cut from public services by 2017/18.
This, he said, would be £13 billion more from government departments and £12 billion from the welfare budget, though he refused to spell out where the axe would fall. The government has already legislated for £21 billion in cuts to social security spending.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka described it as “just another brutal assault on unemployed, sick and disabled people from a government that has done more than any other to undermine our social security system”.
He added: “If the prospects for growth and our economy are so rosy, and employment is at record levels, this political attack on those who are out of work or on low incomes is even more unnecessary and distasteful.
Osborne’s rhetoric on tax avoidance was not matched by a commitment, promising only to collect another £5 billion when our public finances are deprived of tens of billions every year.
The chair of our parliamentary group John McDonnell MP described it as a “blitz of economic statistics” on living standards and employment that “bear no relationship to reality of life for most people”.
One of the surprise measures, to help kickstart a “savings revolution”, was the scrapping of the tax on the first £1,000 of interest on savings.
He also announced government support for first-time homebuyers with a new Help to Buy ISA to top up savings for a deposit.
With average wages still 5% below what they were before the economic crash, these so-called giveaways will only benefit the relatively well off.
Osborne has even failed on his own terms. In 2010, he said the country’s debt would be 67.4% of national income this year; today he confirmed it will be 80.2%.
Five years of Tory-led austerity have driven down wages, devastated the lives of people who rely on social security, increased homelessness and damaged our public services.
Today, in his last budget before the general election, the chancellor reminded us he is either incapable of, or uninterested in, building an economy that works for the good of all.