No alternative, no ‘plan B’

December 7, 2012 9:34 am

In the Autumn Statement George Osborne and the Coalition Government had yet another opportunity to implement an economic policy that could do some real good for people across the country.

They could have chosen to introduce changes to the tax system and cut unnecessary spending to rebalance the disastrous economic decisions they have made over the last two and a half years, giving hope to millions of people across the country that our future isn’t built upon austerity and belt-tightening – but growth and prosperity instead.

But they didn’t. They stuck to their guns. No alternative, no ‘plan B’.

No shift in public spending (such as reductions in the Cold War levels of defence spending) to remove the threat of redundancy that hangs over hundreds of thousands of public service workers who worry every day that they will join half a million of their colleagues who have lost their jobs already.

No ending of tax reliefs for the wealthy (like corporation tax relief on pay and bonuses) or introduction of more redistributive forms of taxation (like reintroducing the 50% tax rate) that could bring to an end the ludicrous pay freeze that takes money out of the pockets of the people who empty our bins, look after our elderly relatives and help young children to read and write.

There was no change to the plan to cut funding public services, like the huge 28% cut in local government funding that has seen Sure Start centres and libraries close, adult social care services withdrawn and public transport schemes scrapped. No endorsement of the principle that the wealthiest should help the most vulnerable, that “we are all in this together” and that people who earn the most should contribute the most through higher taxes for the richest, including on bankers’ bonuses.

A solid plan for growing the economy out of the financial crisis was also missing – whether ‘plan B’ or not. The £23bn interest paid on Quantitative Easing purchases will be used to reduce the deficit. But the Government could have been bolder and funded a programme of infrastructure investment, creating thousands of affordable homes, improving roads, building high-speed rail and dealing with our energy insecurity with the construction of renewable energy projects. This would have generated future revenue and productivity that could have helped reduce the nation’s debts long into the future, rather than acting as a short-term dog whistle for Conservative activists on cuts.

We will have to wait to see how new rules to address tax havens and tax avoidance will work out (particularly as despite some new money, cuts to HMRC have seen the number of staff working on these cases significantly reduced), but it’s a shame that there is no detail about what could happen with the money raised. Tackling aggressive tax avoidance schemes could fund a national legacy that we could all be proud of, generating the £10bn needed to solve the UK’s growing care crisis through the creation of a new, free of charge, national care service.

UNISON, alongside the Labour Party and many other campaigning organisations, has consistently called for the Government to ditch this damaging austerity programme – bringing together an alternative that sets out where the Government can raise new revenue and cut current spending. But in rejecting the need for an alternative we still face an economic emergency and a triple dip recession in 2013.

The deeper cuts in the Autumn Statement will fuel work force instability and lack of consumer confidence, only worsening the UK’s economic future.

Dave Prentis is the General Secretary of Unison

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Smith/516168738 Daniel Smith

    Come on Dave, stick your neck out. M.U. – Mids

  • Quiet_Sceptic

    So with Labour having taken the UK into military conflict first in Iraq and then Afghanistan you blame the coalition for not cutting defence spending?

    I would hope that whatever party was in government, if they took the UK into armed conflict they would provide sufficient Defence spending to ensure our military personnel, public servants risking their lives in war zones, went into battle well resourced and well equipped.

  • Quiet_Sceptic

    So with Labour having taken the UK into military conflict first in Iraq and then Afghanistan you blame the coalition for not cutting defence spending?

    I would hope that whatever party was in government, if they took the UK into armed conflict they would provide sufficient Defence spending to ensure our military personnel, public servants risking their lives in war zones, went into battle well resourced and well equipped.

Latest

  • Comment Freelancing needs a policy agenda of its own

    Freelancing needs a policy agenda of its own

    The self employed are often the ‘most entrepreneurial, go-getting people in Britain’ . That is what Ed Milliband said during his conference speech when he placed a commitment to the self employed and albeit freelance workers at the heart of his election pledges for the general election. One of Labour’s six pledges is to provide equal rights to the self employment. As Ed Mililband noted ‘two out of three don’t have a pension, one in five can’t get a mortgage. […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Cameron’s pledge to scrap the Human Rights Act shows he’s legally illiterate

    Cameron’s pledge to scrap the Human Rights Act shows he’s legally illiterate

    In a crowded field, there is one issue which can always evoke splenetic outrage in the Daily Mail and the Tory backbenches: the Human Rights Act. And so it came as no surprise that its abolition ‘once and for all’ formed an integral part of David Cameron’s speech to the Tory conference. He had a simple pitch: the UK government is being told what to do, not by its own Courts but by Strasbourg. So we need a British Bill […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Cameron’s Tax Cut is a Tax Con – but it’ll be popular, and highlights Labour’s missed opportunity

    Cameron’s Tax Cut is a Tax Con – but it’ll be popular, and highlights Labour’s missed opportunity

    David Cameron’s conference speech today was well-delivered, punchy and memorable. It had a clear top line to grab the evening news headlines, and his populist tax cuts will be the overwhelming focus of tomorrow’s front pages. This was cheese to Miliband’s chalk. Whilst the Labour leader appeared to lack energy last week, and his headline announcement leaked in advance (and wasn’t sufficiently headline-grabbing to grab headlines), Cameron was surprisingly pumped up, energetic and forceful. He was also doling out policy like […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Dismantling Britain’s despotism

    Dismantling Britain’s despotism

    The fictional town of Dunchester is the scene for a right-wing science-fiction novel by nineteenth century author H. Rider Haggard. It is also the site for a fantasy game used to recruit and train British civil servants. The Tory novel is about radicals trying to block experts and professionals from saving Dunchester from an epidemic of plague. The civil service game allows players to spend £20 million in regenerating a fake town with the same name. Players take the role […]

    Read more →
  • News Video “This is who we resent” – David Cameron lets slip what he actually thinks

    “This is who we resent” – David Cameron lets slip what he actually thinks

    Unfortunate Freudian slip for David Cameron during his Conference speech today: “This party is the trade union for children from the poorest estates and the most chaotic homes; this party is the union for the young woman who wants an apprenticeship; teenagers who want to make something of their lives – this is who we resent.”

    Read more →
7ads6x98y