Growing consensus that austerity isn’t working.
For seven years public sector workers have faced a 1% restriction on pay increases. For hundreds of thousands of people across The UK, this has meant a real terms pay cut. But, many hoped that this policy, along with other austerity measures, would soon come to an end.
“The danger is not only that these austerity measures are killing the European economies but also that they threaten the very legitimacy of European democracies — not just directly by threatening the livelihoods of so many people and pushing the economy into a downward spiral, but also indirectly by undermining the legitimacy of the political system through this backdoor rewriting of the social contract.” — Ha- Joon Chang
Recently, there were many reasons to expect an end to austerity. During the election campaign, it was clear that there was mounting opposition to the austerity program offered by The Government, and it may have been this opposition that led to The Government’s loss of their majority and Labour’s highest vote share since 2001. On top of this, there were reports that multiple Conservative MPs and Ministers wanted The Government to abandon the public sector pay cap, as well as a British Attitudes Survey that showed that more Britons wanted higher taxes and spending.
“Austerity and rapid deficit reduction is failing in its own terms, but even at its best it is short-sighted, muddle-through politics with no vision of a new economic model.” — Frances O’Grady
Then, after Theresa May found 1.5 Billion for The DUP deal, it seemed farcical that her government could continue to say that there simply wasn’t enough money to invest in public services, and her speech earlier this week, in which she asked for ideas for governing, led many to believe that she was ready to change.
But, yesterday, it was announced that teachers will face another year of the 1% pay cap, for 500,000 teachers in England and Wales this will mean a real terms pay cut. The National Union of Teachers (NUT) commented, “successive years of below-inflation pay deals has seen teachers’ pay fall in real terms by 13%.”
So, it turns out that despite ever growing evidence that austerity isn’t working The Government is, as unwilling as ever, to change course, meaning austerity will only end when this Government ends.