Austerity: The Facts

Excerpt from the pre-Budget speech by John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (25 October 2018):

“The Labour Party is publishing today a dossier summarising very briefly just some of the austerity measures and their impacts on our society.

Let’s just look at what it’s meant for people, the human cost of austerity.

For children: there are over four million children living in poverty, with the Child Poverty Action Group saying another million children will be forced into poverty as a result of Universal Credit cuts.

Over 500 children’s centres have gone and nearly 500 children’s playgrounds will have been closed by 2019.

There are over 123,000 children living in temporary accommodation, up 65% since 2010.

Children’s services are facing a £2 billion funding gap. Cuts to early intervention to support families has resulted in the highest number of children being taken into care since 1985.

The Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children’s and Young Person’s Board said that unless new funding is found these services which keep children safe from harm and the worst abuses of society are at tipping point.

For young people: the YMCA reports that spending on youth services has fallen 62% since 2010.

Six hundred youth centres have closed, 3,500 youth workers have lost their jobs and 14,000 places for young people have gone.

The pressures on young people are immense.

The average graduate coming out of university has a £50,000 debt, with the poorest graduating with debts in excess of £57,000.

In-work young people between 16 and 25 are significantly more likely to be on a zero hours contract, with 36% of all zero hours contracts taken by young people.

The IFS describes home ownership amongst young people having collapsed.

Rough sleeping has more than doubled, rising for the seventh year in a row.

Tragically, under mounting pressure, a decades-long decline in suicides amongst men has reversed since 2010, with research linking the impact of austerity to 1,000 extra deaths and an additional 30 to 40,000 suicide attempts amongst young men since 2010.

For older people: there are more than a million elderly people living with their care needs unmet as a result of the social care crisis.

More than 400,000 people can no longer access social care altogether.

And well over 150,000 elderly people are in arrears on their social care payments.

The latest research shows there over 31,000 excess winter deaths among the over 65s. Deaths which Age UK have linked to the strain facing our NHS and social care system.

For women: we know that austerity has fallen hardest on their shoulders.

Women’s Budget Group analysis has consistently demonstrated 86% of net savings to the Treasury through tax and benefit measures since 2010 have come from women.

According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, women have lost considerably more from changes to direct taxes and benefits since 2010 than men. Their research indicates women are set to lose about £400 per year on average, and men only £30.

And it is particularly the most vulnerable women that are the hardest hit.

It should shame our Government that almost a fifth of specialist women’s refuges have been forced to close under the Tories and, according to Women’s Aid, over 400 women, often with children, were refused a space at a refuge last year.

The victims of possibly the most callous cruelty inflicted by this government have been disabled people.

A UN inquiry into the rights of persons with disabilities has found this Government guilty of the “grave and systematic violations” of their rights.

We know that many have taken their own lives because of this Government’s welfare reforms.

A 2018 report for the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that overall changes to taxes, benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit will leave a lone disabled parent with at least one disabled child £10,000 per year worse off by the end of this Parliament.

If you are a teacher, the impact of austerity has been that teachers’ pay fell by £4,000 between 2011 and 2016/17.

A recent study found a large proportion of teachers having a diagnosed mental health condition, with workload and financial pressures both given as reasons for this.

So it’s hardly surprising 36,000 teachers left the profession last year, the highest level since records began.

According to Government figures more teachers are now leaving the profession than joining.

If you are a health worker you are having to cope with the biggest financial squeeze in the NHS’s history.

NHS Trusts ended the last year with a deficit of £960 million.

The result is what the British Medical Association describes as an NHS at breaking point.

Last year 2.5 million people waited over four hours in A&E compared to 350,000 in 2010. The waiting list has reached 4.3 million. The number dying on the waiting list has risen by 10,000 in five years.

If you are a police officer, you will have seen over 21,000 of your colleagues’ jobs go since 2010.

According to the National Audit Office funding for police services has fallen by up to 25% in real terms.

And police officers are now being forced to take the Government to court to secure a wage rise awarded to them by the independent pay review body but reneged upon by the Government.

The Government is also putting at risk future generations.

The IPCC report gave us all a stark warning of the threat of climate change if we do not act now and act decisively.

And yet analysis of the Government’s planned infrastructure investments, the “Infrastructure Pipeline” shows that there is a 95% decline in planned investment in renewables from 2017 to 2020.

The Environmental Audit Committee inquiry heard expert evidence attributing the decline directly to Government policy, including removing subsidies and privatising the Green Investment Bank.

Investment in renewable energy fell 56% last year following cuts to essential subsides. The UK’s is the biggest fall in the world.

Annual clean energy investment is now the lowest it has been since 2008.

Eight years of Tory austerity have undermined much of the social fabric of our society and is putting our future at risk“.