Our budgets have never been so low!

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
22 November 2023

We’re told that taxes in this country have never been so high.  So the Chancellor was under pressure to announce tax-breaks in his Autumn Statement.

    But of course, those who cry the loudest over “high taxes” are rich enough to have a hefty tax bill - even though they seldom pay it, given the many already-existing loopholes!

    As to the “UK’s high taxation”, this is what the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) says (and it should know, since it does all the government’s economic forecasting): “While the UK tax burden is currently high by historical standards, it has remained below the average across other advanced economies”.

    The OBR looked at the ratio of tax to GDP (or economic output).  This shows that Britain’s so-called “high tax burden” is 3. 3% below the average of the G7 - and 6. 4% below that of the “EU 14"!  And Britain still has the lowest corporation tax rate (i. e. , tax on the bosses’ profits! ) in the G7, despite raising it by 6%, to 25%, last April!

So what about the poor... ?

Another point the OBR makes, is that many of the rich countries, “like the UK. . .  also face growing fiscal pressures associated with ageing populations, higher stocks of debt, higher interest rates, energy insecurity and climate change. . . ”.  And that to meet these “pressures”, they’ll have no choice but to increase taxes “over the remainder of this decade”.  That is, unless they’re prepared to “significantly scale back spending in other areas”.

    Unsurprisingly, it’s precisely this “scaling back of spending in other areas”, that Sunak and Hunt are announcing, instead of tax rises.  Why should they take any account of social need - the 14. 5m people living in poverty or the 3. 8m in destitution?  These poor people would certainly never vote Tory, if they vote at all.

    For the likes of Sunak, people are dispensable and especially the lower classes!  According to evidence given at the Covid Inquiry, Sunak (like Boris Johnson) thought that the government should “just let people die” from the lethal alpha Covid variant.  During the 2nd pandemic wave, he pushed “eat out to help out”, which helped spread the virus that went on to kill more people than in the 1st wave.

    And to show what a good guy he is, this Wednesday he made a point of saying how he “supported Israel” and proceeded to allocate money to fight anti-Semitism.  Not a single tear         for the over 8,000 Palestinians and 5,000 kids (who had nothing to do with Hamas! ) already slaughtered by an Israeli government which he supports.

    So no surprise that he has no qualms whatsoever about targeting the 9 million “economically inactive of working age” in order to force them off benefits!  The “savings” to the Treasury will give him what he calls the “head room” to cut taxes for the rich.

    Leaks to the newspapers explain that under this “Back to work” plan, claimants’ free prescriptions and legal aid will be cut off, if they are deemed “fit to work” and then fail to jump through all of the hoops that Job Centres put in front of them.  From past experience, we know that those who do this “deeming” of “fitness to work” are themselves under pressure and their mis-assessments have led to several claimants’ deaths.

    We are told that “digital tools” (spy-ware? ) will “track” the unemployed’s attendance at “job fairs”(? ) and during interviews - and if they don’t do exactly as they’re told, their benefits will be stopped.

Turning their screw back on them!

With 7. 8m people on the waiting lists of an already-collapsed NHS and 2. 6m long-term sick, post-pandemic, yes, many people are not able to work.  But never mind, they’ll be forced onto the job market anyway.  And it’s a job market which will offer lower and lower wages for casual work, for fewer hours (£11. 44/hr is still short of the £12/hr - £13. 15 in London - needed to live).  Yes, because the bosses have been cutting jobs, not creating them.  There is no real labour shortage.  By pushing the supply of workers up higher, bosses can push wages and conditions even further down than the rock-bottom levels they’re already at today.

    This is why there are strikes breaking out in the private sector again - and there may be more to come.  Indeed, enough is enough!  Unions like Unite have again begun calling small sectional strikes of a few subcontracted workers at a time - like at the BMW mini factory.  But by doing so, they just go along with the bosses’ “divide and rule”.  When this is precisely what needs to be challenged, if the working class is to end the insecurity of temporary and subcontracted work on slave wages - which will now be fed further by schemes like Hunt’s “Back to work”!  If the different categories of workers come together and can pull the core permanent workers into their strikes, they can, for once, begin to fight effectively - because strength is always in numbers!