“It’s going to be tough” is what we hear today in reports from government sources. It is the reality of toxic public spending cuts that are threatened in the latest Westminster narrative.
Sound familiar? Well, it is, as we are heading towards Austerity 2.0. We’ve been here before – the first round was painful, damaging and lasted over a decade. In a speech on the economy in 2010, on his plans to deal with the fallout from the global economic crisis, David Cameron said: “The measures we need to deal with it will inevitably be tough…I have no hesitation in this subject, but we will go through this together.
Well of course we weren’t into it together at all. And here we are again, in the middle of our NHS strike vote on pay, hearing rumors that Rishi Sunak and his chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, are planning to make public sector workers poorer, with a proposed limit on raises public sector salary to 2% in 2023/24.
Lowering the standard of living and the quality of life of public sector workers will not make the UK more prosperous and it is not a price to pay.
I spoke this weekend at our national conference of members with disabilities about the challenges ahead, as it is important to recognize that the cost of living crisis weighs more heavily on our members with disabilities.
But I also talked about how all of our members are the real creators of wealth in society. It is a false economy to drive down public sector wages and starve funding services. Ultimately, this forces dedicated and experienced staff to retire.
Companies like Amazon and Google, which should pay their fair share of taxes, rely on our members to grow their businesses. They need access to an educated, fit and able-to-work workforce that can drive on well-maintained roads and where health and care services are available for workers and their families. And if an accident occurs, businesses will call 999 for emergency service assistance.
More importantly, austerity affects people’s lives so deeply that its legacy can last for generations. Over the past decade, the demand for food banks has skyrocketed and now even these charities are struggling to feed everyone who needs help. Child poverty has reached shameful levels and we have not seen the promised economic growth.
We’ve been saying that for 12 years now, while campaigning to protect our public services. We have told the government that their ideology is not working – it is ruining lives.
But we will not stop campaigning against this damaging Conservative government until it is removed from power and our public services are no longer in its hands.