I was at work during the budget, but I knew it had to be bad when I heard about this living wage being in it. The only possible reason why a Tory Bullingdon boy from a wealthy Baronet family of tax dodgers would be remotely interested in a living wage for the working class, was because the budget included so much bad news he needed to soften the blow and distract the media for long enough for him and Cameron to make in back to Downing street without being lynched!
And clearly my fears were correct, as the IFS has suggested in its review of the budget. The news is bad for pretty much everyone, except the very wealthy. While a higher minimum wage (in a few years time for over 25’s only) will offer some respite for those on low income, the decimation of working tax credits and welfare payments will see the poorest households in Britain loose out to the tune of thousands of pounds a year. And while those on middle incomes will see their tax free allowances go up, this will largely be wiped out by higher taxes and rates on things such as insurance as well as higher living costs. And the IFS also point out, that by cutting working tax credits, the incentive to have someone in a family working is reduced. Hence these measures might have the opposite effect that the Tories are hoping for.
I mean let’s look at my position. On paper, I’ll be £80 a year better off, that’s about £1.5 a week better off. Maybe I’ll go to the movies…..by myself…..and it might just pay my bus fare! Unfortunately, given the proliferation in Big Issue sellers and beggars it will create I might end up spending it all on that instead. And when the poor and the desperate turn to crime, as they have been doing in other parts of Europe where austerity has hit hard, one can only imagine what will happen to my insurance premiums.
Worse still this is a budget that will further extend the growing inequalities in British society. The wealthy will see their pensions and inheritance protected allowing their fortunes to grow all the more. While at the other end of the scale some will struggle to keep their rented council house, nevermind be able to afford to buy a home. And the other inequality gap, that between the young and older generations in the UK, this budget also further widens.
It raises the risk of creating the sort of dangerous social stratification of a sort which we’ve not seen in the UK for sometime. In fact about the only scenario I can think of when any part of the UK was this unequal was when Osborne’s family was one of a number of wealthy Protestant families who controlled nearly all of the wealth and land in Ireland. And we all remember how that ended, with the likes of Osborne and Cameron burnt out of their homes and forced to flee the country!