The old cliché is that a week is long time in politics, but this last week has been particularly eventful — and worrying.
At the end of last week new Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng stood up in the House of Commons and announced the government’s plan to get our economy growing. His speech did not just demonstrate a new economic policy but a turbo-charged ideological attack on us all.
The country is in the biggest cost of living crisis in generations. Household incomes have fallen at the fastest rate since the 1950s. Energy bills — even after the “rescue package” — will be twice as high as last winter.
It was an unpleasant surprise to find out that chancellor’s solution to this crisis was to change the rules so bankers could get unlimited bonuses and the richest in our country pay tens of thousands less in tax. A revival of the 1980s “trickle-down economics” much loved by Thatcher and Reagan.
The scale of the tax cuts are eye-watering. A banker or chief executive on £1 million a year will pocket £55,000 more. Health care assistants, school staff and council workers earning £20,000 a year will take home £150 more — a sum that won’t even touch the sides with groceries and petrol to pay for.
Tax cuts for the super rich – pay cuts for everyone else. New prime minister, same old Tories.
The proposals made such little sense that in a week our economy has been rocked. Mortgages have become more expensive, imports have become more expensive, inflation will push more household to the brink.
And now the government is trying to bring stability by saying they will pay for the mess they created by finding “efficiency savings”. We all know what that means — yet more cuts to the public services that this country relies on. A new wave of austerity that will hit the fabric of every community. Our NHS, schools, police forces, councils, and probation service desperately need more money not less.
UNISON and the whole trade union movement will mobilise and try to force government ministers to change their mind. If they don’t, there is only one way forward: Liz Truss must call a general election and see if the public supports her. That will be the perfect opportunity to tell them what we think.