So Much For Coalition’s Austerity


photo67889On 22 July 2013 I spent most of the day with friends and relatives all had to downsize and move out of London as they could not afford to keep up with their mortgage or rent and out of a job because of this coalition’s austerity.

Intriguingly most of us was reading a article in the Guardian Newspaper which happen to mention what most of us continue to believe for a long time Ed Ball first mentioned this to the Chancellor Of Exchequer which will come back to hunt the coalition.

The chancellor George Osborne has cut public spending too quickly and hampered the UK’s recovery, according to former Bank of England official Adam Posen.

EdballsThe likelihood of a triple-dip recession and more than two years of flat growth can be partly blamed on Osborne’s handling of the economy, said Posen, who stepped down from the central bank’s interest rate setting committee last year.

Posen said the crisis in the eurozone remained a large factor hampering the UK’s expansion, and would continue to be a drag in 2013 while it remained in recession.

However, a lack of demand for UK goods from the continent was not the only reason the economy had failed to grow.

Echoing the stance taken by opposition Treasury spokesman Ed Balls, Posen said: “It was not something I was able to say when I was at the bank, but it is my belief that the government has pressed ahead too quickly with austerity.”

He warned that the time to cut spending is later in the economic cycle, when the economic recovery has become established and tax receipts are restored to levels that can cushion the impact.

photoPosen, who was appearing in parliament on Tuesday before the Treasury select committee, will fly to Davos in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum where he take part in a debate on new economic thinking.

He has previously expressed concerns about government policies, especially the continued concentration of lending by the major banks.

In collaboration with other leading economists, he has championed a state-backed investment bank to boost lending to small and medium-sized businesses as a major plank of a growth package.

He tolds MPs on the all party committee that Labour and the Liberal Democrats had backed the plans, but he had failed to win over the Treasury.

Posen also expressed alarm that UK businesses had failed to wean themselves off exporting to the eurozone in favour of new markets. He said it was likely that while cultural issues played a strong part in exporters following existing trade routes, restrictions on funds for investment to new markets were also an important factor.

Procurement in the UK takes longer than it does in France and Germany and progress on making it more centralised has been “painfully slow”, they say.

Their report says a “fundamental shift” is needed in the civil service’s ability to run effective procurement

The government says its reforms have already saved billions for the taxpayer but it knows there is “more to do”.

The public sector spends £227bn a year on goods, services and works – £45bn of which is controlled by Whitehall departments. The Ministry of Defence, which has been criticised repeatedly for the way it spends money, spends £20bn a year.

‘Risk averse’

The public administration committee says if the process was made more efficient, big sums could be saved and it could even drive economic growth.

It welcomed moves to make the process more efficient but said that procurement and management failures – recent examples of which could be seen in contracts the Ministry of Justice had with G4S and Serco – “continues unabated”.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has accused the firms of overcharging for tagging criminals in England and Wales.

The report said the UK had fallen behind other EU countries in securing contracts for its own companies to help national economies and said procurement generally in the UK took 50% longer than it did in France and Germany, despite operating under the same EU rules, due to a “process-orientated, risk-averse culture”.

Committee chairman Bernard Jenkin said the government had made efforts to centralise procurement but “progress so far has been painfully slow and sporadic”.

“The government has failed to set out a clear strategy for public procurement and it may be impossible to achieve this without changing the relationship between departments and the centre … The government is a single customers and should behave as such.”

The Cabinet Office said it had already halved the length of the average procurement process from 208 working days to 102, slimmed down procurement guidance, stripped out “unnecessary procedures” and used “bulk-buying” powers to get the best value from suppliers – something it said had saved £3.8bn in 2012/13.

A spokesman said: “We are pleased that the public administration select committee highlights our progress to improve data, act as a single customer and renegotiate contracts, and we will study the report carefully and respond in due course.

“Our unprecedented reforms to transform Whitehall into a leaner, more efficient machine that manages its finances like the best-run businesses generated £10bn of savings for the taxpayer last year alone. These reforms will help ensure Britain can win the global race. But we know there’s more to do and so we will keep pushing ahead.”

Britain’s Conservative Party has set out plans to escalate the government’s assault on welfare.Earlier this week, Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said unemployed parents should only receive benefit for their first two children, meaning entitlement to child benefit and/or income support and other financial aid could potentially be removed for any children above that number.

Shapps claimed that the plan would place the unemployed on an “equal” footing with working parents. Unemployed parents who decide to have more than two children should “know that welfare is not going to fund that choice,” he said. He suggested further restricting entitlement to housing benefit by barring all unemployed under-25-year-olds from access to the rent subsidy. Again, Shapps claimed that welfare benefit provided an “incentive” for unemployment. The proposal would affect some 380,000 jobless under-25-year-olds, forcing them to live with parents/friends or face homelessness.

Shapps’s comments came as the government’s cap on the amount of welfare benefits claimed by any household was rolled out across the country.The scheme, first piloted in four London boroughs—Haringey, Enfield, Croydon and Bromley—means that no jobless household can receive more than £26,000 a year in benefit and other entitlements. It is part of a further £11.5 billion of cuts unveiled by the government in June. This comes on top of the £155 billion austerity measures already passed by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition since its election in 2010.

The government’s Spending Round in June for the first time covered a single financial year—2015/2016. It therefore tied any future government (the general election is due in 2015) to the reduction.

Shapps’s statements were once again justified on the grounds that cutting welfare is motivated by “fairness” to taxpayers, as it ensures that no jobless household will receive more than the national average wage, regardless of its family size or circumstances.

The pilot cap has already caused great hardship. Haringey Council reported that 740 families lost income during the trial, with just 34 people finding employment. The government’s own figures calculated that up to 56,000 families will be hit, losing an average of £93 a week, while in London, some 7,000 households will lose more than £100.

London and the south are especially affected by the cap due to high housing and living costs. Families are being forced out of the capital and into accommodation in northern England where rents are cheaper.

Amid reports that Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has requested additional time to legislate for further changes to welfare for next year’s parliamentary session, the government is said to be intending to reduce the benefit cap still further. Conservative MPs are reportedly demanding it should be cut to £20,000. In addition, the Forty Group of Conservative MPs—so-called because they represent constituencies with the slimmest majorities is demanding benefits be withdrawn from teenage mothers and a host of other measures.

Teenage single mothers should no longer be automatically entitled to help with their housing costs, or be considered a priority for social housing, they argue. They propose deducting fines for school truancy from the child benefit paid to mothers, while restricting access to “repeat” abortions.Those most affected by the cap and the additional measures now being proposed are children.

According to the Children’s Society, children are seven times more likely than adults to face hardship as a result of the measures. Matthew Reed said 140,000 children, compared with 60,000 adults, “will pay the price as parents have less to spend on food, clothing and rent.”

The amount of money supposedly “saved” by such measures is paltry.

Teenage single mothers account for just 2 percent of all single parents. Similarly, the benefit cap is estimated to reduce social security spending by just £110 million this year and £185 million in 2014, because the vast majority of people already receive far below the cap. Only in May, Duncan Smith was publicly reprimanded by the UK Statistic Authority for publishing misleading figures as the supposed success of the pilot benefit cap. In an open letter on behalf of the authority, Andrew Dilnot said Duncan Smith’s claims on the numbers finding work was “unsupported by official statistics.”

The Tories’ moves are clearly punitive. They are aimed at stigmatising and punishing the unemployed, while legitimising a broader offensive against social rights from welfare to education and health care.

Rolled out under the heading “Rewarding Work”, Duncan Smith once again sought to set “working” families, “paying their taxes”, against the jobless, arguing, “The days of blank cheque benefits and people milking the system are over.”

The measures have the wholehearted support of the media, which routinely demonises the unemployed and promotes propaganda blaming welfare costs for the squeeze on spending, enabling the Conservatives to claim that their plans are in response to “public” pressure.

Not a word is said about the criminal activities of the major banks and financial institutions, which are responsible for the biggest economic crisis in 70 years. Billions have been and continue to be paid out to the banks and super-rich, while the majority of the population are put on rations.

Unemployment is nearly 3 million, including more than 1 million out of work and not claiming benefits. Employment is scarce, with much of that available temporary and low-paid. That is why the majority of those on benefits are the “working poor”, those whose pay is so low they need additional state subsidies to survive. Even this bare minimum which acts as a subsidy to employers is now being scrapped as the ruling elite seek to overturn all the social gains made by the working class.

A central role is played by the Labour Party, which is committed to maintaining the coalition’s benefit cuts and introducing more of its own. It has jettisoned its verbal opposition to the benefit cap, arguing that it should be determined three years in advance and have a regional component.This week, Labour attacked Conservative plans from the right, arguing that they were too soft on welfare.

Labour’s Liam Byrne denounced the cap for not being hard enough because it would not affect those with very large families and would do nothing to prevent those “living a life on welfare.”

A single-tier “universal credit” comes into effect later this year, which will streamline existing benefits into one, with the obvious aim of further slashing welfare payments. Labour claims that design flaws will mean that single jobless households with seven or more children will “slip through the cap.”

Meanwhile, the Trussell Trust reported that the numbers of people being referred for food parcels increased in the three months since the government’s welfare measures began by 200 percent. The voluntary food aid network reported that more than half of the 150,000 people referred for emergency food aid between April and June were affected by benefit cuts and delays, and financial problems caused by changes to housing.

“The reality is that there is a clear link between benefit delays or changes and people turning to food banks, and that the situation has got worse in the last three months,” said Trussell Trust’s Executive Chairman Chris Mould.

EDL-rally-Birmingham-PA-3-5164262Recent events in Birmingham in regards to EDL and UAF has led to more trouble than it was worth have to say they(EDL) have cause more violence and arrest and not forgetting the damages left behind to my beloved city Smoke bombs, cobble stones, bottles and coins were hurled at police as the English Defence League and their opponents descended on Birmingham city centre for simultaneous demonstrations.

One policeman suffered concussion during scuffles with protesters at Paradise Circus while other demonstrators were left bloodied by missiles and clashes with police in the shadow of the city’s new library.

An estimated 2,000 EDL supporters poured into Centenary Square on Saturday chanting hate-filled, anti-Islam slogans.

In Chamberlain Square about 300 people – some wearing balaclavas – from Unite Against Fascism and other groups turned out for their counter-demonstration.

More than 1,000 police officers from the West Midlands and other forces had been drafted in with one mission; keep the groups apart.

Set against the backdrop of soldier Lee Rigby’s murder and three bomb attacks on Midland mosques, West Midlands Police said the demos were being held at a time of heightened tensions.

Given the EDL’s history in the city – where previous demonstrations have ended in violence, many were anxious in the run-up to the demonstrations.

In the event around 20 arrests were made in total with supporters of both factions being detained for public order offences.

But the afternoon marked the return of hate to the streets of Birmingham

As many will be aware of the cost implementations to Birmingham City Council and police cuts yet the police have to cope with fascists and protecting all the citizens to keep the peace. This is what you get from the coalition which they have imposed on us all. They have the cheek to say “We’re All It Together and part of the “Big Society” which does not help to put food on their tables.

 

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