Chancellor Hammond had the chance of breaking with the failed policies of George Osborne and tackling poverty, inequality, homelessness, low productivity, tax dodging and high rates of winter mortality among the elderly. He just blew it.
Most of the cuts planned by ex-Chancellor Osborne are going ahead as planned, through freezing in-work benefits, rolling out Universal Credit and slashing disability payments. At the same time, there are yet more tax cuts for business and extra public subsidies for capitalist “free” markets in housing, transport and technical innovation that have failed so miserably up to now.
Instead of pumping £8bn more into the private housing sector and accelerating the forced sell-off of Housing Association properties, that money could build 140,000 new homes – almost four times more than Chancellor Hammond unveiled today.
Another £8bn of public money is to be invested in private sector transport, telecoms and R & D, where companies have utterly failed to invest their huge savings in corporation tax over the past decade.
The puny benefit concessions and a 14 pence an hour increase in the statutory minimum wage are far outweighed by a thumping £4bn rise in insurance premium taxes.
This is a government whose education priority in this Autumn Statement is to find extra funds for the reintroduction of grammar and secondary modern schools.
But the statement will be welcomed by the City bankers and speculators, who prefer to see public spending funded by ballooning government debt rather than a serious clamp-down on corporate fraud and tax-dodging. Companies continue to squirrel away billions of pounds in tax havens when they should be investing in industry.
Wage earners, tenants, the sick, disabled and unemployed, pensioners, owners of small businesses, students and apprentices will not see their prospects improve under this apology for a mini budget.
- Issued by the SW England & Cornwall District Committee of the Communist Party, 25 Nov 2016.