JUST HOW POOR do they think our memories are? This Government wants the public to believe that it is the ‘excesses’ of overpaid public sector workers, with our ‘gold-plated’ pensions, that are to blame for the debt crisis.
But that’s just not true. Do they think that we have forgotten that it was the reckless gambling by greedy financiers that led to this crisis? Or that it was the unprecedented multi-billion pound bailout of these banks that created these state deficits?
Our pay and pensions are not to blame. After all, despite the pay campaign that included national teachers’ strike action in 2008, recent pay awards have really been pay cuts. Teachers will still get a 2.3% pay award in September but inflation stands at over 5%. Then the Tories tell us we’ll get a two-year pay freeze from 2011-13. In real terms, that’s at least a 10% cut.
Public sector pensions were reviewed as recently as 2005. The Government and unions agreed changes that protected the retirement age for existing teachers but increased our contribution rates too. That was supposed to ensure the scheme was fully budgeted for.
Now the Government have set up a new Public Services Pensions Commission that is due to make its first report in September. It’s clear that this is going to be used to mount a huge attack on our living standards and pension provisions.
If that wasn’t enough, Osborne’s Budget announced 25% cuts in Whitehall spending over the next five years. The Comprehensive Spending Review in October will spell out where those cuts will fall. However, local councils are already warning of big cuts and job losses to come.
This is no surprise to the Government. A leaked Treasury document confirms they expect over half a million public sector jobs to be lost by 2015, plus even more in the private sector.
But these huge cuts won’t even save the economy as Ministers pretend - they’ll wreck it. Countries like Ireland - where pensions and pay have already been cut - show that the economy and deficits will just get worse, not better.
This Government is really just using the recession as an excuse - to help their friends by cutting corporation tax while they attack the rest of us. It’s also their excuse to attack both our national conditions and our public services through Academies, Free Schools and other privatisation plans. We must not fall for their lies