Osborne privatisation drive – but forced to retreat over tax credits

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CHANCELLOR Osborne announced a U-turn on the abolition of tax credits in his Autumn Statement yesterday, while massively extending Tory privatisation and cuts elsewhere.

Nursing students are to be charged fees for their training for the first time and sixth form colleges are to be ‘academised’. Revealing ruling class fear of the revolutionary anger of the working class expressed in the mass opposition to his planned abolition of tax credits next April, Osborne said: ‘I’ve listened to the concerns, I hear and understand them … the simplest thing to do is not to phase these changes in, but to avoid them altogether.’

‘Tax credits are being phased out anyway as we introduce universal credit,’ he hurriedly added.

He went on to announce massive cuts in government departments, involving the sack for thousands of civil servants. HMRC is making efficiencies of 18% cuts in its own budget. In the digital age, we don’t need taxpayers to pay for paper processing or 170 separate tax offices around the country.’

He went on: ‘The core Cabinet Office budget will be cut by 26%, matching a 24% cut in the budget of the Treasury and the cost of all Whitehall administrations will be cut by £1.9 billion. These form part of the £12 billion of savings to government departments I am announcing today.’

Osborne went on to flag up further massive cuts and privatisations in healthcare, along with the introduction, for the first time ever, of tuition fees for trainee nurses. He said: ‘We will work with our health professionals to deliver the very best value for money. That means £22 billion efficiency savings across the service. It means a 25% cut in the Whitehall budget of the Department for Health.

‘It means modernising the way we fund students of healthcare. Today there is a cap on student nurses … We will replace direct funding with loans for new students so we can abolish this self-defeating cap and create up to 10,000 new training places.’

Osborne announced the abolition of the local government grant entirely over the course of this parliament, saying that in future it will be entirely up to local authorities to raise the revenues to fund local services, urging a massive orgy of asset-stripping. He announced, ‘We will abolish the uniform business rate. By the end of the parliament local government will keep all of the revenues from business rates … The local government is sitting on property worth a quarter of a trillion pounds. So we are going to let councils spend 100% of the receipts from the assets they sell.’

He announced that the Department of Transport is being cut by 37%, Department of Environment by 15%, Department of Energy by 22% and Culture, Media and Sport cut by 20%. He said there are to be 500 new free schools and technical colleges, saying he wants every secondary school to be an academy and for the first time that 6th form colleges are to become academies.

He announced that he will phase out the current school funding system, replacing it with new national funding. He said that he wants to reduce those claiming unemployment benefit to zero, but until such time, those who are claiming will have to attend the jobcentre each week for the first three months.

Underused courts will be closed, old Victorian prisons, including Holloway Prison, sold to make way for housing, with nine new prisons built.