But you don’t have to take UNISON’s word for it. Commentators, economists, heath analysts, charities and others from across the political spectrum are worried at the Condems’ policy of savage cuts to the public sector.
It wasn’t public services or the people that deliver them that caused the financial problems of this country, but it is our communities and our public services that the Condem government are recklessly cutting back whilst the banks get off with just stern words and yet more massive bonuses. Ever felt like you’ve been cheated?
Here are some reactions to the Condem Spending Review, delivered in parliament by George Osbourne, one of the 23 millionaires in the Cabinet.
“…what many of the fiscal masochists do not seem to appreciate is that, if they are not careful, they will not only jeopardise the recovery but, by making savage cuts in public spending, they will fail the next generation in whose name they try to justify the cuts… Frankly, I am seriously worried about what the Coalition is – in my opinion unnecessarily – risking with the fabric of British society. Why should the vast majority of people, who were, or are, innocent victims of the crisis, be made to suffer?” William Keegan, Economics Editor, The Observer
“The chancellor claimed that one of the principles of his spending review was fairness. But if you cut spending by 77% and raise taxes by only 23%, a larger burden will fall on those who rely most on public services.” Nick Pearce, director, Institute for Public Policy Research
“The British government‘s plan is bold, say the pundits — and so it is. But it boldly goes in exactly the wrong direction. Why is the British government doing this? The real reason has a lot to do with ideology: the Tories are using the deficit as an excuse to downsize the welfare state … the best guess is that Britain in 2011 will look like Britain in 1931, or the United States in 1937, or Japan in 1997. That is, premature fiscal austerity will lead to a renewed economic slump.” Paul Krugman, winner of Nobel prize for economics
“The big argument in favour of the UK government‘s austerity is that the alternative might, in the words of George Osborne, ‘be bankruptcy’. Why a country whose actual and prospective public debt will remain below the average of the past two centuries should be in such dire straits is very far from evident.” Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator, The Financial Times
“The Comprehensive Spending Review, like the previous emergency budget, hits women hardest. It is women who will be the main losers as jobs are cut, public services are rolled back and benefits are slashed.” Ceri Goddard, chief executive, Fawcett Society
“Despite the continuing rhetoric that spending cuts will be fair the Chancellor‘s announcements today are anything but. Local government will lose 28% of its funding over the next four years, compared to just 14% reductions to the royal household, and this will hit disabled people and their families particularly hard.” Richard Hawkes, chief executive, Scope
“Andrew Haldane of the Bank of England estimates the subsidy to British banks at an average £59bn over the last three years. The proposed levy will raise one-twentieth of that. Banks‘ predictable cry of despair will really be a sigh of relief.” Financial Times, 21 October 2010
“The government has, in effect, outsourced responsibility for spending cuts to town halls… Some services that we take for granted will simply disappear. Most visibly, the shutters will come down on many (but not all) libraries, swimming pools and community centres. Nice-to-have-services, which councils are not required by law to provide will be shredded: youth services, careers advice services, parenting support programmes, projects promoting community cohesion or tackling bullying in schools.” Patrick Butler, The Guardian
“The spending review will hit councils and will inevitably lead to cuts at the front line. These are some of the biggest cuts in the public sector and we have to be honest about their impact … These cuts will cause real pain and anxiety for millions of people who use the services councils provide, from keeping children safe to ensuring that streets are clean.” Baroness Margaret Eaton, chair, Local Government Association
“It is a huge blow to see that housing, one of the most basic needs for every single person in this country, is facing some of the biggest cuts. A succession of governments has failed to address our housing crisis and today‘s announcements suggest the Coalition has firmly joined them in denying responsibility for an entire generation‘s ability to access decent, secure, affordable housing.” Campbell Robb, chief executive, Shelter
“On the test of fairness and whether those with the broadest shoulders take on the greatest burden, I don‘t think it will be met in the area of housing. I fear that policy will unravel.” Andrew George MP, backbench Liberal Democrat
“Mainstream youth services seem at enormous risk – and this simply confirms the actions many local authorities have already been taking … Children‘s social care – child protection and support for children in care – faces a rising tide of demand, which can only be met if … other services … are more deeply cut.” Paul Ennals, chief executive, National Childrens’ Bureau
“Today‘s cuts to the higher education budget cannot be good news for our economy and society. Universities UK has consistently opposed cuts to the university teaching and research budget … We are now one of the only countries in the industrialised world that is not increasing our investment in science and research.” Steve Smith, president, Universities UK
“The Chancellor‘s statement focused on a few large-scale transport projects but the reality is cuts in funding for everyday transport. These projects should not be used as a smokescreen to cover up service cuts and rocketing fares on our buses and trains … This will threaten the Government‘s plan to get people off welfare and into work. If people don‘t have access to affordable public transport they won‘t be able to take up jobs or training.” Stephen Joseph, chief executive, Campaign for Better Transport
“The apparent resilience of public sector wage growth compared with the private sector largely reflects the nationalisation of two of Britain‘s banks along with an explosion of low paid jobs in the private sector since the recession. When the effects of these changes are stripped away, pay for public sector workers has risen broadly in line with that of the private sector over the past year.” Financial Times, 11 October 2010