Sunday, September 20, 2009

Under Pressure

With so much detail now appearing about massive cuts in the Government's spending plans I'm rather wondering if Labour might go for an early General Election after the forthcoming Party conference. You will remember that Gordon Brown had that opportunity once before, when he would most likely have won and then he dithered it away.

Schools Minister, Ed Balls, reveals in The Sunday Times , his ideas for £2billion worth of potential cost savings' in schools and 'elsewhere'. We also have the argument over 'leaked' Treasury documents that reportedly show secret plans to increase income tax by £14.8 billion, 3p in the pound, if Labour survives the coming vote of confidence by the British people.

On a national basis and regardless of the background conference 'wittering' about their own plans for the economy from the LibDem conference in Bournemouth, 2010 is shaping-up to be the start of a broadly unpleasant experience for millions of people, facing the ever present spectre of unemployment or the very real threat of increased taxation.

Locally, the politicial opposition, are in most cases busily distancing themselves from the Labour brand, or busily knitting their own political spinach. Still swimming in denial, they have clearly failed to grasp the harsher implications of the so-called 'Conservative myth' of a recession so vigorously dismissed by their previous Leader earlier in the year.

Reading my notes from the most recent report from the councils benefits section, I see that we had 163 new claims in just two days. At the same time, I see average processing times have increased slightly, largely, I'm told, because the people who are now seeking unemployment benefits have never claimed before and have no idea of their entitlements or how to find their away around the system. These are Tony Blair's new middle classes, hard-working people who may have never before experienced unemployment in their working lives.

As the trend in unemployment appears to be accelerating in the wrong direction, I share the concern of the Citizens Advice Bureau among others. Thanet is already burdened by too high a national position in the statistics of deprivation and as the fallout from the banking failure continues to spread and public money dwindles, Thanet and other councils like it, start to resemble a pressure cooker, over-filled with urgent and often competing priorities.

3 comments:

Mr Friday said...

I think to be honest that, whoever wins next year, the general public are in for a hell of a battering. Whether it be from reduced local council services as they struggle to balance the budgets or big increases in direct or stealth taxes.

The only group in society who really have nothing to fear are those who rely on benefits to pay for all their living costs, rent, Council Tax and everything else. They are effectively recession proof.

Anonymous said...

The private sector i.e. banks are main players in causing the collapse of the financial sector so why does the public sector have to pay with talk of cutting it by a third. I worked in the civil service up to 2 weeks a go. We had to contend with among other things an awful IT infrastructure provided by the private sector that would go down sometimes for several days at a time making it nearly impossible to do any work, work that involved elements of criminal investigation so not something you could put on the back-burner. One of the reasons I left after 22 years was because I couldn't see it getting better, the other reason is to work abroad on a tax free salary on 4-times my present salary. I have no further wish to pay to support people who will not work, who rip off the benefits system and for a Government that goes to war on the back of the ex: PM's ego. Furthermore I do not see it being better under a conservative Government. My generation took the brunt of Margaret Thatcher's policies in the 1980s now I'm doing it all for myself and my family and GB Plc can kiss it.

James Maskell said...

Gordon Brown will call it as late as possible. He wont win it as the damage is done but to be honest, no party could win the election in the position the Government's in. I agree with Mr Friday's first line. Whoever takes over its going to be painful and genuinely tough choices will have to be made, including consideration of cutting spending in the NHS and schools, something unthinkable in financially better times. All this talk of a few billion here and there is small beer.

Theres always been this comment that its horrible to be supporting banks and while theres something in it, if we let them collapse, the Government will have to cough up anyway to replace the deposits, which at the moment is anything up to £50k per account, not to mention the wider damage to the economy. After all the banks were a cash cow for the Treasury. The banks dont want to be in this (Lloyds recently have decided to make massive efforts to get off the Asset Protection Scheme because of the drawbacks inherent in it). It looks bad for them and gives power to others to stick their noses in. Its not a nice situation to be in but in my opinion, it had to be done.