Osborne imposes ‘Welfare Cap’

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Young Socialists lobbying the TUC Congress in September last year. Chancellor Osborne has announced an expansion of the National Citizens Service – a labour front for 16-17 year olds
Young Socialists lobbying the TUC Congress in September last year. Chancellor Osborne has announced an expansion of the National Citizens Service – a labour front for 16-17 year olds

CHANCELLOR Osborne launched a massive new attack on the working class and poor yesterday, with his £11.5 billion Spending Review onslaught on pay, public services and benefits.

He started off by announcing pay cuts for millions of health, education and other public sector workers, stating: ‘Public sector pay rises will be limited to an average of up to 1% for 2015/16.

‘But the biggest reform we make on pay is to automatic progression pay.

‘This is the practice whereby many employees not only automatically get a pay rise every year, but automatically move up a pay grade every sixth year, regardless of performance.’

Describing progression pay as ‘antiquated’, he went on: ‘We will end automatic progression pay in the civil service by 2015/16 and we are working to remove automatic pay rises simply for time served in our schools, NHS, prisons and police. The Armed Forces will be excluded from these reforms.’

He moved on to jobs, saying: ‘I don’t want to disguise from the House that there will be further reductions in the number of people working in the public sector.

‘The OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) has forecast that the total number of people working for the government will fall by a further 144,000 by 2015/16.’

He announced an expansion of the ‘National Citizens Service’ – a labour front for 16-17-year-olds.

He said: ‘90,000 places will be available for young adults in the Citizens Service next year, rising to 150,000 by 2016.’

He announced a 7% cut to the budgets of culture, media and sport and a 5% cut in community sports, arts and museums, but said he is providing £2 billion a year to Lord Heseltine’s Local Enterprise Partnerships, to privatise the provision of local services, adding ‘details out tomorrow’.

He announced a huge expansion in privatisation of education, stating: ‘We will fund an unprecedented increase in the number of free schools. We will provide for 180 great new free schools in 2015-16.’

On benefits, he announced: ‘We are going to introduce a new welfare cap to control the overall costs of the benefit bill. We’ve already capped the benefits of individuals and now we cap the system as a whole.’

He concluded: ‘We are going to introduce a new seven day week before people can claim their benefits.

Those first few days should be spent looking for work not looking to sign on. . . .

‘From now on if claimants don’t speak English they will have to attend language courses until they do. . . . if you’re not prepared to learn English your benefits will be cut.’