CHANCELLOR Hammond outlined a bankrupt policy for a bankrupt Britain yesterday in the House of Commons. The paper-thin disguise for this bankruptcy was Hammond’s words about ‘An economy set on a path to a new relationship with our European neighbours and a new future outside the European Union.’
The truth is that the UK bourgeoisie was forced on the road out of the EU by the massive vote of the British people and is desperately fearful of making a clear break as the people are demanding.
The capitalist world crisis got not a mention from the Chancellor, at a time when all of the world’s major banking institutions are warning that a new crash is on the way, and that it will be accelerated by rising interest rates.
The nearest that Hammond got to mentioning the world crisis was to say that: ‘The world is on the brink of a technological revolution. One that will change the way we work and live and transform our living standards for generations to come.’
The truth is that capitalism cannot cope with this technological revolution and is preparing for societies that are divided between super-rich and millions of poor in irregular employment, providing services for the rich for a pittance.
Hammond continued to revise downward the outlook for productivity growth, business investment, and GDP growth across the forecast period. He outlined: ‘The OBR now expects to see GDP grow 1.5% in 2017, 1.4% in 2018, 1.3 in both 2019 and 2020, before picking back up to 1.5, and finally 1.6% in 2022.’ After a decade of austerity, he told the House of Commons: ‘So I am pleased to tell the House that OBR expects debt to peak this year, and then gradually to fall as a share of GDP.’
The Chancellor delivered his full support for Universal Credit adding: ‘We have looked at reducing the delay at the end of the first month assessment period. But to do so would mean compromising the principle of payments being made on the same day of the month.’ He emphasised that this was: ‘A key feature of the system which is very important for claimants in managing their budgets.’ He did not mention the Christmas crisis for those on Universal Credit.
Hammond went out of his way to praise the rich! This is at a time when the Paradise Papers have shown the Queen and many other billionaires to be tax dodgers. Hammond declared that: ‘The top 1% are paying a larger share of income tax than at any time under the last Labour Government. The poorest 10% have seen their real incomes grow faster since 2010 than the richest 10%. And the proportion of full-time jobs that are low-paid is at its lowest for 20 years.’ Austerity has been really good for the poor.
On the NHS, privatisation is the message. He said: ‘First, we will deliver an additional £10 billion package of capital investment over the course of this Parliament … ‘To support the Sustainability and Transformation plans which will make our NHS more resilient.’ The STP is the programme to cut, close and privatise the NHS! To go along with this, there was no budget pledge to lift the pay cap.
All that Hammond would say was: ‘My Rt Hon Friend the Health Secretary has already begun discussions with health unions on pay structure modernisation for Agenda for Change staff to improve recruitment and retention. He will submit evidence to the independent Pay Review Body in due course. But I want to assure NHS staff and patients, that if the Health Secretary’s talks bear fruit, I will protect patient services by providing additional funding for such a settlement.’
The pay cap is to remain and no doubt will only be partially lifted if the unions make massive concessions on redundancies and working hours! He continued: ‘We can’t build an economy fit for the future without supporting its backbone.’ This turns out not to be the working class but ‘Our 5.5 million small businesses who are responsible for nearly half of our private sector jobs’. They are to be rewarded by Hammond. He said: ‘And today I will accept the representation of the British Chambers of Commerce, CBI and other business organisations and bring forward the planned switch from RPI to CPI by two years, to April 2018. A move worth £2.3bn to businesses over the next five years.’
This budget makes it crystal clear that the trade unions must take action to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers government and socialism!