Austerity is a policy that our government calls their programme of cutting services, schools, the NHS and welfare benefits. Cuts have always been around, but not always under the name of “austerity”. The latest austerity measures were brought in after the banking crisis in 2008, where banks took very high-risk gambles with the money of people who use their banks (i.e. you and I) and the bankers got big bonuses for doing so.
Eventually the banks gambles backfired, and the then government (Labour) with the full support of the opposition (the Tories) bailed out the banks with £1.162Trillion. The Guardian reported in September 2011 that the UK tax payer is still owed £456.33bn.
According to the same Guardian article, the latest bail out the banks got was in 2009 and amounted to £38bn. These numbers can be quite daunting, so this is what £38bn look if spent on the public services:
– 1520 Schools
– 6 years of policing
– 1,357 miles of motorway
– 4 London Olympic games
– 70 new hospitals
– 14.5 years operational costs on the military
– 319,327 prison places
– 633 new Apache helicopters
– 15 new aircraft carriers
To be clear, the above list is ALL the things we could have all together if we hadn’t bailed the banks out. But because the banks were bailed out, we are now having our vital public services run into the ground or even privatised so that the government can cover the huge hole in it’s finances as a result of bailing the banks out.
Austerity is a way of making the poorest pay for the mistakes of the rich. It is entirely wrong that our local libraries are being shut, local NHS services being cut, local school being privatised, vital social care services cut back and many other cuts that are being forced onto local councils by this government who tells us there is no money left when at the same time the rich are getting richer, huge multi-national corporations (such as Google, Starbucks, Vodafone, Boots, Amazon and others) are not paying their fare share of taxes – and in some cases avoiding it all together.