In today’s Budget announcements, Chancellor George Osborne declared, “Britain deserves a pay rise and Britain will get a pay rise,” confirming his plans for mass redundancies among satirists.
Osborne’s announcements today have been framed in such a way as to mask the fact that they are a further, serious attack on the working class. The choice of phrase, stating that he was “moving us from a low wage, high tax, high welfare economy; to the higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare country” amounted to little more than a well-rehearsed propaganda line.
By increasing the minimum wage to £7.20 an hour in 2016, Osborne insists he is creating a “national living wage.” This is set to go up to £9 an hour by 2020. In fact, the Living wage Foundation calculates that a living wage is already £7.85 across the UK and £9.15 in London.
Moreover, the national living wage is a premium only for workers over 25, leaving younger workers (including many who already have to support themselves) further out of pocket by comparison.
Public sector workers, including civil servants, will also baulk at the suggestion that Osborne is giving Britain a pay rise. They are faced with four more years on a 1% pay cap. For AA grade staff, this means a salary of £15,663 by 2020 – or less than the promised £9 per hour minimum wage!
Poorer students are losing maintenance grants. Working age benefits are being frozen for four years. The new regional benefit cap further restricts the income of families who need support. Tax credits and universal credit will be reformed to penalise families with more than two children.
But corporations are getting a tax cut.
This budget amounts to “just under half” of the cuts to be announced, with further cuts to government departments set to be announced in autumn. Osborne is softening us up, then, for massive job cuts and a further devastation of public services.
In short, this budget is an attack on benefit claimants and public sector workers, on young people and low earners, and on any working class people who dare to breed too much or work too little.