It’s usually women who suffer disproportionately when governments take it upon themselves to make those who elected them suffer the indignities and privations of excessive austerity.
Sadly this has been confirmed yet again. The number of women claiming unemployment benefit is going up due in some part to job cuts in the public sector beginning to bite. And it’s not been helped by single parents being forced off income support on to job seekers’ allowance (JSA) once their children turn seven thanks to the Tory-led government’s cut fast and cut now mentality.
New figures from the Office of National Statistics show that 474,000 women were receiving JSA in April and according to the International Labour Organisation there was a rise of 12,400 in the claimant count last month with three-quarters of them being women. This means that although the total of those on JSA went down, the number of women has risen significantly.
Meanwhile inflation is now higher than the growth in earnings. According to the Bank of England’s central projection published a couple of days ago inflation will average just under five percent for the last six months of 2011. Conversely the Office for Budget Responsibility expects average earnings to rise by only two percent.
Unfortunately none of a surprise to those us who believe the Tory-led coalition is cutting too much too fast. Many people will be poorer as a direct result of this government’s deeply harmful and utterly misguided policy of slashing public spending at the speed of lightening with scant regard to its harmful effects.
Extreme austerity measures defy logic. Cutting people’s spending power means they put less money into the economy leading to a further downward spiral, not to mention a decline in the revenue from taxation. While I admit to being a fairly unreconstructed Keynesian, I have to say that in my 30-odd years in politics, which included the massive cuts during the Thatcher era, no-one has yet adequately explained how making people worse off is good for the economy.
If anyone feels like trying to convince me, please send me your answers, though not on the proverbial 1980s postcard. In order to keep up to date with the digital age, I will be happy with a comment on this blog.
Meanwhile I firmly believe the two Eds, Miliband and Balls, have it about right – the UK economy needs to have some of the heat taken out of it, but at a pace which will not cause the harm we are now seeing as the Tory-led coalition continues its cavalry charge against the British people.