Women suffer most as we all become worse off

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.

1 Comment

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One response to “Women suffer most as we all become worse off

  1. Daniel Oxley

    I am glad that May doesn’t want the answers on a post card – not nearly enogh room. Its a pity there was no mention of a prize for the first correct answer but it is a good question and one which I am happy to answer without any inducements.

    Before answering it in the context in which it was intended, it might be useful to address the question in much more general terms by considering a personal economy. Many of us chose at the age of sixteen to make ourselves less well off by avoiding an unskilled job and spending many years studying instead. At the end of the many years we found ourselves better off because we had skills and certificates. The same applies to people who took a badly rewarded apprenticeship and then got a good income.

    Before addressing the question in the context of the Coalition it should be pointed out that they are only tinkering with the problem and that the obvious thing to do is to dump the EU. This would enable us to tackle the Budget Deficit and then get started on the National Debt.

    The Question. Explain how making people worse off is good for the economy.
    The Answer. The people are already worse off, we each have a share in the Budget Deficit, poor economic growth and the National Debt. What Labour proposes is to borrow even more money to sustain previous prosperity.

    Keynesians (unreconstructed or not) often remember only a part of Keynes’ ideas. As well as his belief in spending your way out of a ‘slump’ he also advocated that in the good times, governments should take the opportunity to get rid of debts. This was not done by the previous government.

    May I ask another question – no postcards and no prizes.

    Is it sensible, at a time when we have run out of money, to increase the EU budget?