Budget 2024: Public Services for All, not Tax Cuts for a Few

The Chancellor’s budget sums up almost a decade and a half of Tory government: desperate so-called ‘giveaways’ that do little or nothing to help ordinary people whose pockets have been picked by the government of the rich for the rich. 

In the 14 years that the Tories have been in power, both private and public sector pay has declined, and job insecurity has ballooned, while services have been slashed, as more and more workers try to get by on poverty pay. 

Britain is broken. We need public services for all, not tax cuts for a few.

At the same time, right across the country, councils are in crisis, generated by relentless central government cuts to their budgets. 1 in 5 face bankruptcy within 5 years. Birmingham City Council, the largest in Europe is about to slash all funding for municipally supplied culture services, as well as cutting statutory services to the bone. The people of Birmingham deserve better, as do all communities that rely on those services, not only to meet essential needs, but to enjoy a quality of life through sport, leisure, and culture.

The Chancellor has today set out to bribe people with a 2p National Insurance (NI) cut. That was the rabbit pulled out of the hat today, but if the Chancellor thinks that will persuade people to vote Tory at the General Election, he must be living in an alternate reality. 

Whilst working people desperately need a pay rise, especially after the inflationary prices increases over the past couple of years, it should come from an increase in wages, not a tax cut – especially one that disproportionally disadvantages the poorest in society.

The People’s Assembly was created more than a decade ago to stop austerity-driven cuts to public services, with all the devastation that accompanied it. What we are seeing today is the ‘endgame’ of that austerity – and local people will be at the front-line of this reckless destruction. We will continue to stand up and fight these reckless policies and support trade unions and communities who are actively fighting cuts, wherever they are. 

The Chancellor’s Budget was roundly condemned by anti-cuts activists. The People’s Assembly National Secretary Ben Sellers highlighted the ‘trade off’ between tax cuts and local services:

“We saw the same tired old pantomime from Jeremy Hunt today, with tax sweeteners for the rich, a gimmicky National Insurance cut that will benefit the comfortably off more than those who are really struggling, and more punishing austerity for libraries, schools, local care services, SEND support and community arts. If that is now the consensus in Westminster, there is a vital need for anti-cuts activism and defence of our communities, up and down the country. Nobody is going to do it but ourselves.”

John Rees of Stop the War drew the links between what was happening in Gaza, in the workplace and on the streets:

“The Tory war on workers and their support for the war in Gaza come from the same place: putting profit, privatisers, and arms manufacturers before the lives of ordinary people. That’s also why they are attacking the rights of both trade unionists and protesters. It’s long past the time for this farce of a government to be ended.”

Campaigning organisations representing disabled people have been prominent around Westminster all week, protesting about the impact of welfare reforms and the cost of living on disabled people, using the hashtag #NoMoreBenefitDeaths on social media. Paula Peters, of Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) said:

“After 14 years of Tory austerity, disabled people are dying in their tens of thousands. There are 100,000 in social care debt – 1 in 10 in debt and 4 million in abject poverty.”

The People’s Assembly has been campaigning against cuts, inequality and privatisation in our workplaces, public services, and communities for over a decade. We believe there needs to be a huge shift in the politics of the UK away from austerity and in favour of investing in our cities, towns, and communities, for the benefit of us all.