Eight years of punishing austerity have had a devastating effect on people across the country, and I see it in my constituency surgeries every week. I see it in the parents who tell me that they fear for the safety of their children because violent crime is rising. For them, austerity for policing has seen nearly £1 billion cut from the Metropolitan police, with neighbourhood police officers disappearing from their streets. I see it in the families who are crammed into overcrowded homes. For them, austerity has meant no new council homes. I see it in the nurses who tell me they once really loved and enjoyed their job but are now brought to despair by being overworked. For them, austerity for the NHS has seen its slowest funding growth in its history. I see it in the disabled people who tell me that they have been driven to poverty and anguish, unable to afford basic necessities. For them, austerity for social security has seen support taken from them.
Those people are seeing some of the consequences of austerity. The Prime Minister promised that austerity was over, but this Budget breaks that promise—it is a broken- promise Budget. The Government claim that this is an economy for everyone and that their cuts to social security are “fake news”. But is it fake news that almost 1 million disabled people will be worse off as a result of universal credit, according to the OBR; or that a single disabled person in work could be made £300 worse off a month; or that, despite the 12-month grace period, the minimum income floor will negatively affect disabled people?
The Government claim that they are spending more than ever on disabled people, but we know that disability social security spending has shrunk by £5 billion over the past decade. The Chancellor has barely reversed half of the cuts to work allowances, and he has done nothing to mitigate the five-week wait facing disabled people claiming universal credit. His Budget does nothing to solve the burning injustices faced by so many disabled people—and there are £7 billion-worth of cuts to social security still to come. The Budget does nothing for families who need social security to get by, with no change to the social security freeze or the two-child limit.
Austerity is not over for social security, and austerity is not over for policing. There is not an extra penny for normal, everyday regular policing. Austerity is not over for education. There is not an extra pound for the day-to-day costs of schooling. Austerity is not over for local government. There is nothing to close the nearly £8 billion funding gap that will exist by 2025. The money promised for the NHS is “simply not enough”, according to the Health Foundation. Austerity is not over.
According to the Chancellor, even the sticking plasters in the Budget are dependent on the Government’s Brexit shambles not causing a disastrous no deal. The grim truth of austerity is that it fails by not only the standards of social justice, but its own narrow standards. The Chancellor now claims that getting the deficit down by 2024 is some sort of achievement, hoping we forget that it was meant to be eradicated by 2015. Let us remember that this Government have missed every fiscal target they have set themselves, with the slowest post-crisis economic recovery on record. The UK is now the only major global economy in which investment is falling. Low growth, low investment and low pay—that is the record of their austerity. What makes austerity all the more painful for so many of my constituents is that, while their public services and social security are cut, the super-rich and corporations have had a £110 billion handout in tax giveaways. It is austerity for the many and abundance for the few.