Lessons from a decade of failed austerity

New analysis published by the TUC this week has revealed just how much a decade of cuts has harmed millions of lives

We all need good schools and hospitals, safe neighbourhoods and a decent home. Parks, sports centres, libraries and colleges are important too – they help people flourish.

But new analysis published by the TUC this week has revealed just how much a decade of cuts has harmed millions of lives.

It also shows that working class families have lost most. Because when services are cut, only the wealthy can pay for private services instead. Working-class families simply lose out.

That’s why we’re calling on the government to rebuild and restore our public services, so that whatever your background you get a fair chance in life too.

Widening class gap

The new analysis by Landman Economics shows that the working classes have lost most from a decade of public services cuts.

The figures below are for England, and the services included in the analysis are health, schools, early years, social care, housing and police.

Impact on households

Families in the lower half of household earnings have lost services to the average value of £696 (annually), compared to £588 for those in the upper half.

The largest losses were for the lowest earning decile of households, at £829, closely followed by the second lowest decile at £794.

However, financial value alone does not tell the full story. Wealthier households can more easily absorb these losses by paying for services in the private sector. But low and middle-earning households are much less able to afford it.

The relative impact is shown more clearly when the losses are presented as a proportion of earnings, as in the chart below. For the lowest decile, the cuts are equivalent to almost a fifth (18%) of their earned income, compared to just 0.4% for the highest decile.

Impact on life chances

Cuts to services affect not only quality of life, but also future life chances.

High-quality provision of services like education, health, disability services and social care can make sure that everyone has a good childhood a decent quality of life. 

Other services allow people from working class families to gain experiences that only wealthier households can afford through private incomes – such as parks, recreation centres, youth clubs, libraries and cultural events.

Reverse the cuts

It’s clear that the last decade of services cuts are widening the class gap.

Everyone deserves to live near a good school or hospital, not just the wealthy. It’s time to reverse the cuts and rebuild our once proud public services.

Lessons from a decade of failed austerity

Full report here.

A decade on from the global financial crisis, the British economy faces increased risk of renewed recession. Alongside weak domestic growth, global economic growth is at its weakest since the crisis and the risk of a no-deal Brexit remains high.

Any preparation for recession must involve learning the lessons of the government response to the last one.

This paper shows how the cuts imposed after the last recession, both in the UK and in much of the developed world, harmed economic growth, with a heavy impact on workers’ pay.

Overall, pay growth has halved across OECD countries in the decade since the GFC. In real terms, annual pay growth has been below one per cent a year for two thirds of countries.

Policymakers and politicians wrongly attribute this entirely to ‘productivity’, despite a failure to find convincing supply-side explanations for the change in growth at a time when controversial policies are acting on demand.

Calls for government expenditure in the face of renewed recession are already widespread, but ‘austerity thinking’ still constrains the options for fiscal policy going forwards.

Recommendations

  • The government should ask for an independent review of how the Office for Budget Responsibility and Bank of England judge the impact of government expenditure on the economy, assessing the critical assumptions on multipliers, the output-gap and the ‘NAIRU’ given the international experience of the austerity decade.
  • Immediately deploy fiscal policy to support aggregate demand according to this changed view, expanding government (current) expenditure on public sector salaries and services.
  • Fast-track increases in public infrastructure spending to the OECD average of 3.5 per cent of GDP.
  • Increased expenditure should be financed by borrowing rather than increased taxation in the first instance. This is not equivalent to deficit spending, as a stronger economy will improve the public sector finances.
  • Use fiscal policy as part of a wider plan to deliver sustainable growth across the UK, including investing in the public services families rely on, the skills workers need for the future, a just transition to net zero carbon emissions, and giving workers a real voice at work. 

Here’s why the CBI is wrong about Labour’s nationalisation plans

The CBI represents the vested interests that have been making a killing from privatisation for 40 years – and it’s scared.

Public ownership is incredibly popular, and it works – from the East Coast line to Scottish Water, from the French post office to Danish wind power.

The right wing media screams that we can’t possibly run our public services for people not profit, that it wouldn’t be efficient to stop wasting money on shareholders.

The truth is that there is no inherent difference in efficiency between public and private sector organisations. 

BUT privatisation wastes £250 million a week on shareholder dividends and cost of borrowing. 

The CBI desperately wants us to ignore this – so it is pulling out the argument that it would be too expensive to get there.

This simply isn’t true. Public ownership would pay for itself. 

Stolen by Grace Blakeley: Political Education and Building Power

For decades, it has been easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.

Register here.

In the decade leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, booming banks, rising house prices and cheap consumer goods propped up living standards in the rich world. Thirty years of rocketing debt and financial wizardry had masked the deep underlying fragility of finance-led growth, and in 2008 we were forced to pay up.

The decade since has witnessed all kinds of morbid symptoms, as all around the rich world, wages and productivity are stagnant, inequality is rising, and ecological systems are collapsing.

Stolen is a history of finance-led growth and a guide as to how we might escape it. We’ve sat back as financial capitalism has stolen our economies, our environment and even the future itself. Now, we have an opportunity to change course. What happens next is up to us.

Event Details:

UCU MDX Branch, MDX Politics Dept & Hendon Labour Party are delighted to host writer, broadcaster and policy expert Grace Blakeley as part of the book launch tour for Stolen: How to Save the World from Financialisation.

Grace Blakeley is a research fellow on the IPPR‘s Commission on Economic Justice, commentates on economics for the New Statesmen and has appeared on numerous political and current affairs programmes.

A panel of UCU, Politics Dept and Hendon Lab members will discuss the themes of the book followed by an audience Q&A and a book signing.

Event Location:

The Boardroom: C219. 2nd Floor. College Building. Middlesex University. NW4 4BT

Ask at reception to the left inside the main doors for directions if needed.

Transport:

Tube: Hendon Central

Thameslink: Hendon

Buses: 143, 183, 326, 643, 653, 683

The Future of Working Time: Organising and Strategy

OPEN INVITE              

The Future of Working Time: Organising and Strategy                        

Tuesday 7 May 2019                       

14:00 – 17:00                   

TUC Congress House

(Please Register – Eventbrite)

·     Join NEF and TUC on Tuesday 7 May from 2pm, for a participatory session on organising and campaigning around working time. Hear from experienced organisers and build strategy around:

–     Winning control over working hours: how do we organise against precarious and insecure forms of work?

–     Winning a shorter working week: why should we demand it and how do we get there?

·     This event is open to anyone who wants to develop their knowledge of these issues and build power in the workplace. We know the best ideas will come from the ground up, so come prepared to listen and share your experiences and ideas with others.

·     Full events details and registration HERE

·      For additional information, Kate Bell writes why trade unions are calling for a four-day week.

Jeremy Corbyn: The people need an election

The Brexit deal Theresa May has negotiated is a bad deal and Labour will vote against it next week.

If the government can’t pass its most important legislation then there must be a general election.

The real divide in our country is not between those who voted to remain in the EU and those who voted to leave. It’s between the many – who do the work, create the wealth and pay taxes – and the few – who set the rules, reap the rewards and so often dodge taxes.

I put it like this: if you’re living in Tottenham, you may well have voted to remain. You’ve got high bills, rising debts, you’re in insecure work, you struggle to make your wages stretch, you may be on Universal Credit and forced to use a food bank. You’re up against it.

If you’re living in Mansfield, you’re likely to have voted to leave. You’ve got high bills, rising debts, you’re in insecure work, you struggle to make your wages stretch, you may be on Universal Credit and forced to use a food bank. You’re up against it.

But you’re not against each other.

Only Labour can bring people together based on their common interests. Whether they voted to leave or remain, people know that the system isn’t working for them.

Because it’s a system rigged against the many, to protect the interests of the few – that’s the real cause of inequality and insecurity in Tottenham, Mansfield and across the country.

That’s why an election is so urgent – and why we must win it. And what will make the difference? Your campaigning and your energy.

So in a speech today in Wakefield, I sent the prime minister a message: if you’re so confident in your deal, call the election, and let the people decide.

But if you don’t, Labour will table a motion of no confidence in the government, at the moment when we judge it has the best chance of success.

If we can’t get an election, then we’ll keep all options on the table, including campaigning for a public vote, as our members decided at Conference last September.

But an election is the best outcome because it enables us to tackle the Tories’ cuts to public services, their awful Universal Credit, rising homelessness, and all the other issues that are damaging our communities.

Together, we have the chance to transform our country for the many, not the few.

Jetpacks, Robots and the Radical Politics of Technology

A day workshop – 11:00-16:30 Sunday 27 January 2019, The Common House. Unit 5E, 5 Punderson’s Gardens, London E2 9QG

Technology appears as either promise or threat – the rise of the robots means either a fully automated luxury future without work, or basically the Terminator film franchise. Where the left was dominated by a pessimistic vision of technology in the not too distant past, the current moment is one full of visions of life after work as technology does all the toil and, to top it off, solves climate change without us having to change anything else. In both visions, technology is this thing out there, separate from us; either a machine to enslave us or one to liberate us.

But is this all there is to a radical politics of technology? How else can we understand the world and the complex of machines, algorithms and technologies we live with and through?

It is vital that we free our imaginations from the grip of capitalist realism (the idea that capitalism is the only option for organising society), and picture possible future worlds and the role that technology will play in them. But we must also keep our imagined worlds grounded in social and economic realities Not forgetting, for example, that we are living on a planet with limited natural resources, or that we have to consider how to make our imagined futures real.

At this one-day workshop of facilitated discussions we will explore some areas within the radical politics of technology: ways of understanding technology in the context of the labour process; how technology relates to ecological concerns; how it has been shaped by the social and economic relationships of capitalism and other hierarchical societies; and how we can shape it in future.

We will continue a discussion begun at an earlier event, Techno-Fantasies and Eco-Realities [https://www.weareplanc.org/blog/techno-fantasies-and-eco-realities/] – although if you missed that one, don’t worry, this one will have a stand-alone agenda. We intend to get down to specifics, with sessions on particular types of technology, some historical examples and some key debates within the politics of technology.

Prosperity and justice: A plan for the new economy

The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice is a landmark initiative to
rethink economic policy for post-Brexit Britain

The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice was established in autumn 2016 in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. The purpose of the Commission was broadly conceived: to examine the challenges facing the UK economy and to make recommendations for its reform.

The members of the Commission come from all walks of life and different political viewpoints. They voted on different sides of the EU referendum, and the Commission is independent of all political parties.

The Commission’s Interim Report was published in September 2017, setting out our analysis of the condition of the economy and the causes of its weak performance. The Commission has also published 17 discussion and policy papers to inform its work and to stimulate public debate. These papers provide more detail on the analysis and proposals made in this report. The Interim Report and full set of papers are available at here.

Given the breadth of Commissioners, we have reached a remarkable degree of agreement, which we hope can be reflected in a wider national consensus about a new direction for the UK economy. Our proposals are deliberately ambitious. Taken together, we believe they offer the potential for the most significant change in economic policy in a generation. We hope that this report can spark a national conversation on why we need a change of direction, and what that direction should be.

Co-Operative Party – Community Energy: Repowering London

Barnet Co-op Party Branch Meeting

Next Meeting 5th December 2018 at 8pm

Chipping Barnet Labour Party Offices, 104 East Barnet Road, EN4 8RE

Barnet Co-operative Party is hosting a talk by community energy specialist Dr Afsheen Rashid. Afsheen is the CEO of Repowering London . A former Senior Policy Advisor at the Department of Energy and Climate Change and current Chair of Community Energy England, Afsheen is a leading figure in the field of community energy generation and was awarded an MBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List for her work in renewable energy in deprived London communities. In her talk, Dr Raschid will talk about the community-owned solar energy project on the Banister House Estate in Hackney.

Banister House Solar

Banister House Solar is the first community owned solar energy project in Hackney as well as the UK’s largest community energy project on social housing. Hackney Council commissioned Repowering London to develop this project in January 2014. Repowering London has worked to develop this project alongside residents of the Banister House Estate and local energy advocacy group Hackney Energy. The project development has been funded and supported by Hackney Council.

On the 3rd of October 2015 Banister House Solar went live, generating renewable, community-owned electricity for the Banister House Estate and its residents.

Key Achievements 

Social

  • The co-operative was established with 4 local directors from Banister House Estate.
  • 25 local young people were engaged in the 30 week paid internship programme.
  • 6 local young people benefitted from paid work experience installing solar panels on their estate. 

Environmental

  • In total 102 kWp of solar array has been installed on the estate.
  • Over the project’s 20-year lifetime, 679 tonnes of CO2 will be prevented from entering the atmosphere.
  • Since it went live, Banister House Solar has generated 92,385 kWh of clean renewable electricity (November 2016). This is roughly equivalent to the electricity usage of 38 average Banister flats for a full year.
  • This means that Banister House Solar has saved around 42 tonnes of C02 from entering the atmosphere since its launch.

Financial 

  • £149,000 of capital funds were raised through a community share offer to fund the project

£20,000 will be generated for the Community Fund. The following areas were selected by the community to benefit from the fund:

  • Energy efficiency measures for the Banister House homes
  • Opportunities for young people living in Banister House
  • Community activities on the estate 
  • Hackney Council will benefit from a potential savings of £20,000 in energy costs over the lifetime of the project 
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