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.