People on a demonstration against austerity

The People’s Assembly insists that there is an alternative to austerity with its policies of tax breaks for the rich and cuts for the rest.

There is nothing strong about an economy, which sees food bank use on the rise, wages plummeting and spending power diminishing with it. We believe that to bolster the economy we should expand our public services instead of cutting them and invest more in jobs and industry.

Rebuilding Public services

In terms of its output of goods and services – the Gross Domestic Product – Britain has the fifth biggest economy in the world. We are wealthy enough to rebuild and properly fund public services which are the hallmark of a civilised society. The first steps must be to oppose and halt the austerity cuts in public services and welfare benefits. But in order to lay the basis for solid and stable improvement in the future, these steps need to be combined with perspectives for enhancing the management and delivery of these services. Therefore, the People's Assembly demands:

  • End privatisation in all its forms in our public services, in our NHS and elsewhere
  • Scrap the current benefit sanctions scheme and increase support for the most vulnerable
  • Abolish student fees and reinstate student maintenance grants, to invest in a future for all
  • Build more actually affordable homes and end all council house sales and housing stock transfers to the private sector
  • End housing repossession and evictions and establish rent controls in the private sector

Sustainability and growth

We need a balanced, productive and technologically advanced economy that will protect the environment, combat climate change and benefit working people and their families.

  • Nationalise essential utilities and services and run them on an eco-friendly basis
  • Provide greater investment in renewable energy sources, energy conservation and the recycling industries for domestic and industrial waste

Is an alternative possible?

How are such demands to be paid for? To begin with there should be a fair, progressive taxation system based on the principles of social justice, and ability to pay. In particular, we ask for:

  • Clamping down on all forms of tax avoidance and evasion which deprives the public purse of around £100bn each year
  • Raising the current rate of Corporation Tax on business profits which could raise at least £10bn a year
  • We call for less military spending not more, which could release billions back into the public sector for education and health services
  • Scrapping plans to renew or replace the Trident nuclear weapons system, which latest government estimates indicate would cost a total of £167bn. That money is equivalent to the cost of doing all of the following: Building 1m new homes (£67bn). Building 10,000 new schools (£33bn). Funding all Accident & Emergency centres (£25bn). Employ an extra 20,000 nurses (£6bn) and 1,000 junior doctors (£4bn) for a decade. Cutting tuition fees in half for 1 million full-time students for two years (£17bn)

Such measures could generate over £100bn annually – more than enough to wipe out the deficit without closing a single youth club, library or day centre for the elderly, and without impoverishing a single working mother or anyone in need of disability support

What about the debt?

None of this means that the National Debt doesn’t matter. In 2015-16, the Treasury paid out £46bn in interest (almost half the NHS budget) on British state borrowing. Britain’s public sector deficit last year was a huge £72bn, which only served to increase the national debt further still. Though it doesn’t follow that the public sector has to foot the bill. The Tories argue, ‘we cannot go on living beyond our means’. They’re right – but austerity means, taking money from the poorest and giving it to the rich. As we’ve seen the money can come from lots of other places that can be used to shrink the debt and build a stronger economy that actually works for the many.

Fairness at work

The fight for against austerity shouldn’t stop at the workplace door. That’s why the People’s Assembly has always recognised the need to build strong links with the Trade Union movement. We demand:

  • An end to pay freezes and the right to collective bargaining
  • Equal pay for all – Close the gender pay gap
  • Increase the minimum wage for all workers aged 16 and over
  • Abolition of zero hours contracts
  • Outlaw the exploitation of immigrant workers by unscrupulous employers
  • Abolish Britain's anti-trade union laws, introduce a statutory right to trade union organization and recognition by all employers, and reinstate full and free rights of access to Employment Tribunals for all workers

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