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From: The Socialist issue 866, 5 August 2015: Stop NHS cuts

Search site for keywords: Them & Us - US - University - London - Students - Budget - Workers - George Osborne - Households - Public sector - RBS - Privatisation - Rich - Privatised - Transport - Welfare - Tuition Fees - Pay - Tax - Royal Mail - Housing - Coalition government - Boris Johnson - Benefits - Cuts - Fees - Grants - Homes - Fire - Grant

Them & Us

Them and us fishes, photo Suzanne Beishon

Image Suzanne Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

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Millionaire Tory chancellor George Osborne is asking public sector workers about 'how to do more with less'. The idiom "be careful what you wish for" springs to mind!

But aside from inviting a list of unprintable adjectives from workers set to suffer another five years of pay cuts, some suggestions may include: rent controls to cut housing benefits, higher wages to offset tax credits, ending the 27 billion annual subsidy to private landlords, ending the billions in 'corporate welfare' payments, and more besides.

Everything must go

It's the sale of the century. Tory Chancellor George Osborne's fire sale of 32 billion worth of publicly owned assets this year will eclipse Thatcher and Major's privatisation binges of the 1980s and 1990s.

As previously pointed out in the Socialist, the Tory government intends to sell-off part of its stake in the bailed out RBS as well as its remaining 30% share of Royal Mail. The latter was privatised on the cheap under the last Tory-led coalition government by Lib Dem minister Vince Cable, losing the taxpayer an estimated 1 billion plus as rich investors cashed in.

Speculators' paradise

It's boom time in central London for property investors as buyers spent 1.8 billion on land in the second quarter of 2015. This represents a 118% increase on last year.

But while office space being built in central London rose by 24% between October 2014 and March 2015, only 18,260 new homes were built in the whole of the capital last year despite London's population growing by 52,000 households each year.

University deterrence

Up to 9,000 a year university tuition fees and the government's budget announcement to axe maintenance grants next year and replace them with loans will deter students from low income households. Currently students from families whose income is below 25,000 a year can get a full annual grant of 3,387.

The Sutton Trust estimates that the budget changes will mean that students from low-income families could accumulate loans of about 53,000 for a three-year course - which many students will see as unaffordable. This is particularly the case given that the Sutton Trust had previously estimated, before the latest budget changes, that 45% of loans are unlikely to be recouped due to low wages of many graduates.

Down the tube

Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London (TfL) are closing ticket offices in order to make savings. This 'public spirited' measure doesn't appear to extend to TfL's underground modernisation programme. The outsourced upgrade of signalling for tube lines is expected to be delivered four years late and at double the cost.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our Fighting Fund.

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Article dated 5 August 2015

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