Free extract: How austerity has been biting the UK since 2010

In light of the media surprise at George Osborne’s 2016 botched Budget and Ian Duncan Smith’s sudden bout of conscience we thought we’d treat you to some tasty extracts from Mary O’Hara’s book Austerity Bites.

 Chronicling the true impact of austerity as it has been felt in the UK since its inception in 2010 and calling the government to account for the pain inflicted on society’s most vulnerable, Austerity Bites reveals that the wounds of austerity have been visible for quite some time…

Mary O'Hara

Mary O’Hara

In February 2015 Tory Party grandees believed it was acceptable to hold a Black and White Ball fundraiser with tables going for £15,000 a time and to have among the items being auctioned bound copies of George Osborne’s Budgets, including the first ‘Emergency Budget’ that ushered in austerity.

While the average British citizen has been living in ever-more precarious circumstances and paying through the nose for bankers’ malfeasance the rich can rest assured that they won’t have to pay their fair share. This is the situation almost five years into Austerity UK.

This Tory and the previous coalition government have presided over manifold cases of people so crushed by the brutish, punitive changes to the welfare system, including the inexplicable ‘Bedroom Tax’, and sanctions that many have gone without food, resorted to begging or taken up ‘survival shoplifting’ after their meagre benefits support has been withdrawn. People are suicidal.


The government has driven innumerable disabled people to despair with its spectacularly inappropriate and mismanaged ‘back-to-work’ programmes that are still plagued by criticisms of callousness and ineptitude. The government has abolished the Independent Living Fund in England, a vital social security safety net that helped around 18,000 of the most severely disabled people retain their hard-fought independence in the community.

“George Osborne had already gleefully dug the welfare state’s grave…”

Despite the mountain of evidence piling up on the barbarity of austerity – and the fact that the deficit that purportedly necessitated all this pain has nowhere near been eradicated – it is clear that the Tories, remain hell-bent on pushing through yet more ideologically driven, record-breaking cuts and harsh reforms to social security.

During his first four-and-a-half years as Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne had already gleefully dug the welfare state’s grave, but his 2014 Autumn Statement was the mallet to hammer the nails into its coffin.

Osborne confirmed that, if the Conservatives were re-elected, billions more would be slashed from the public purse, including from social care budgets that fund essential services designed to protect the most vulnerable and poorest in society, including children, disabled and older people.

Deep cuts

Immediately after the Statement, the highly respected Institute for Fiscal Studies concluded that the government’s plans to shave another £20 billion from spending would constitute cuts ‘on a colossal scale’, while at the beginning of 2015 it reported that if proposed Conservative Party plans were enacted they would amount to ‘the largest fiscal consolidation out of 32 advanced economies over the period from 2015 to 2019’.

“Make no mistake about the sweeping and ruinous legacy of five years of austerity in the UK”

Make no mistake about the sweeping and ruinous legacy of five years of austerity in the UK. The economic recovery has been the slowest and least robust ever recorded, and the Chancellor’s deep cuts were estimated in February 2015 to have contributed to a needless shrinking of GDP by 5 per cent, delaying any recovery from the get-go.

Millions of people are now poorer, housing costs have soared and living standards continue to fall. Average earnings have dropped significantly.

And, as this book’s first edition correctly anticipated, the much-trumpeted uplift in jobs has continued to be characterised by low pay, insecure contract work and involuntary (poorly paid) self-employment.

Let’s not forget that homelessness is rising dramatically, that services ranging from domestic violence support to addiction facilities, to provision for disabled people and children are closing or stretched to the limit, that access to justice has been severely curtailed due to Legal Aid cuts and that the queues for food banks have swollen to extraordinary levels.

Remember too the government’s lamentable stewardship and quasi-privatisation of the NHS, as well as truly devastating cuts to mental health services. It is no wonder that suicide rates for men have risen steadily since 2007.

#Austeritybites #Austerity #budget2016

Austerity bites pbk [FC] for webThis is an extract from the paperback version of Austerity Bites by Mary O’Hara which can be purchased here from the Policy Press website for £9.99.

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