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Austerity wasn't necessary

Britain's first budget since leaving the EU shows little to no Brexit dividend.  Digesting the UK Chancellor's budget will take a bit of time...just a bit.  But it is already clear that there is little of the trumpeted Brexit bonanza.  There is no windfall from Brexit.

Of course, some will argue that there was never going to be any.

Instead, the government has abandoned its economic principles, planning now to increase borrowing to spend on big infrastructure projects and cope with the coronavirus pandemic.   It is a crisis budget.



We saw none of the £350 million a week for the NHS that adorned Boris Johnson's Leave campaign bus.  We did get an extra £6 bn for the NHS, which is woefully short of the £18 billion that was suggested as a bonus from Brexit!

Of course, nobody believed the battle bus figure in any event.  It was a porky pie.  Not only did it get the number wrong for our payments into the EU, but it was also a sleight of hand to suggest that this could be used to fund the NHS.

Yet, despite the increased spending and the massive borrowing, there is no end to austerity.  We will still see the growing crisis in social care and children's services.  We will see the social fabric of our society continue to deteriorate.

Bricks and mortar alone in grandiose schemes like HS2 are not sufficient to rebuild our towns and communities.

But the budget tells us something crucial.   Austerity was not necessary as a response to the banking crisis in 2008/9.  It was always possible for the government to borrow to spend.  It was even possible for them not to cut income tax for high earners.  

It wasn't necessary to slash funding to local authorities so that they could not afford to meet their statutory requirements, and pushing them towards bankruptcy.

It wasn't necessary to cut benefits and drive hard-working families into poverty.

The Tory government and the Coalition before it took the opportunity to make the poorest families pay for the bankers' greed.







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