Globe, Struggles, Trade Unions, United Kingdom, Workers

Austerity in the UK: the welfare state is not dead

A major national conference speaking about change and the end of austerity will take place in London on Saturday 2 June.

 

Marcella Via

 

The United Kingdom has been subjected to austerity measures, first, immediately after World War II and, second, following the financial crisis of 2007–2008. In 2009, the Conservative Party declared that austerity measures would replace the age of irresponsibility, referring to the government spending of the previous years.

Following this, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition initiated an austerity programme in 2010, with two main goals: to eliminate the structural current budget deficit to achieve a “cyclically-adjusted” current balance and to decrease national debt as a percentage of the GDP.

The austerity programme is a fiscal policy, whereby the government uses taxes and spending to influence the economy. In this case, austerity is understood as a deficit reduction programme characterised by persistent reductions in public spending and tax rises, aimed at reducing the government budget deficit and the role of the welfare state, resulting in a deep deterioration in social rights.

Health care is one of the many victims of austerity. In fact, the continuous cuts on the National Health Service (NHS) has caused around 120,000 excess deaths since 2010, as reported by a paper from the British Medical Journal, released in November 2017. Additionally, life expectancy in England almost halved between 2010 and 2017.

Austerity has also profoundly affected the housing market. For example, a local housing allowance policy resulted in an under-occupancy penalty that became known as the “bedroom tax”. While a room in London reached the cost of a flat in Spain, the bedroom tax affected an estimated 660,000 working age social housing tenants, reducing weekly incomes by between £12 and £22. Also, this measure reduced the expenditure of the Department for Work and Pensions by about £500 million per year.

Because of this situation, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity is organising a national conference against austerity called “Change is coming: how can we achieve an anti-austerity Government?” The sessions will include topics related to nationalism, the compensation of corporations, the possibility of councils to fight austerity and a possible national education service, among others.

The event will take place on Saturday 2 June, at 10:30 am, at the St. Pancras Church, London, Euston.

For further information, please visit the People’s  Assembly website or visit the Facebook event. People are invited to book their tickets here.

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