THE TORY Chancellor has had to borrow another £13bn to unveil a series of desperate measures in order to attempt to keep UK capitalism afloat as more parts of the country go into Tier 3 lockdown and massive job losses.
Greater Manchester’s population of 2.8 million has joined Liverpool City Region, Lancashire, South Yorkshire and Slough in England’s highest Tier 3 with its vicious restrictions. Wales has already begun a 17-day lockdown.
Tory Chancellor Sunak announced his big changes to the Job Support Scheme (JSS) on Thursday. It is set to replace the existing furlough scheme from November 1st. He told the House of Commons that under the revised scheme, employers will pay a lot less and staff can work fewer hours before they qualify.
The taxpayer subsidy has been doubled. Instead of a minimum requirement of paying 55% of wages for a third of normal hours worked, as announced last month, employers will have to pay for a minimum of 20% of usual hours worked, and 5% of hours not worked.
The government will now fund 62% of the wages for hours not worked. This more than doubles the maximum payment to £1,541.75 a month. In the most generous case, the taxpayer will now go from funding 22% of wages to just under half.
This means that there will be yet another gigantic leap in the amount of government borrowing, dumping the entire weight of this unprecedented crisis onto the working class.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced last week that UK government borrowing has already hit £36.1bn in September alone! The figure was £28.4bn more than last year and the third highest in any month since records began in 1993. The ONS said the pandemic had had an impact on public sector borrowing ‘unprecedented in peacetime’.
The national debt is now £2.06 trillion, 103.5% of the size of the UK’s economy, as measured in gross domestic product (GDP). The next wave of government borrowing has just been launched and national debt is set to soar even higher. In the last six months alone, not including the new borrowing plans, the Tories have taken out an extra £208.5 billion in debt!
The Tory Chancellor, in his speech to the Tory Party conference at the beginning of October, vowed to ‘always balance the books’, underlining that ‘the Conservatives had a sacred duty to leave the public finances strong’.
In other words, the Tories are going to be coming for every single penny borrowed and that means an unprecedented war on the working class.
Millions of jobs have gone and millions more are going. The Tories are set to hike up taxes, break the triple-lock on pensions, slash benefits, cut wages and force families into abject poverty, the like of which has not been seen since Victorian times. The reason Sunak brought in the latest measures is that the Tories sense the deep-seated anger in the working class and need more time to prepare the state forces.
At last Thursday afternoon’s news conference, Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a warning that the UK would face ‘many thousands more deaths’ if it ‘put the economy before health’ and also warned that a national lockdown would push the economy over the edge. He was responding to a faction in the Tory Party that want an immediate and savage assault on the working class.
Yesterday’s Daily Telegraph had this to say on the issue: ‘There is an obvious tension within government between those who favour measures that are as tough as possible, and those who argue for keeping as much of society open as possible, not least because of the catastrophic costs of continued restrictions.’
While the ruling class is debating the right time to assault the working class and drive it back to a situation worse than the ‘Hungry 1930s’, the working class must take mass actions, to lead the way to smashing capitalism.
It must force the trade union leaders to call a general strike to bring the Tories down and bring in a workers government and a socialist planned economy though a socialist revolution, to provide jobs for all.
The essence of the current crisis is that the working class must take action to overthrow this backward capitalist society and replace it with socialism. Only the WRP and the Young Socialists fight for this perspective. Don’t delay, join today!