by Jonathan Lee
“New pension plans to work till you die are no cause for alarm” says arch-Tory overlord Ian Duncan Smith. A recent report from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the Tory think-tank which brought us Universal Credit, has recommended the government raise the retirement age from 65 to 70 by 2028, and to 75 by 2035.
The Tories are not content to simply make workers’ lives as miserable as possible through underfunding schools, unaffordable housing, food poverty, and the greatest devaluation of wages in modern history. They now seek to steal the last golden years of life from the majority of working class people who cannot afford a private pension in order to retire early.Continue Reading
by Tim Forster
Content warning: mentions domestic violence and abuse.
As we know the Tories’ so-called austerity has been an attack on the working class — the economics of class war if you like —but cuts in public sector jobs, benefits and social services have hit women particularly hard.Continue Reading
by Elliot Folan
Six years ago, as a baby-faced 16-year old, I remember sitting in two different meetings within a few months of one another. In one of them, a youth magazine I was working on was told that its funding was being cancelled because of the incoming government’s spending cuts. In the other, I sat in my first local Green Party meeting as activists, fresh from losing overwhelmingly in their target ward, talked about traffic lights and solar panels. The contrast between the two meetings — one a reminder of the impact of politics on everyday life, the other a completely oblivious talking shop — strikes me to this day. Though the party initially struck me as directionless, I stayed until 2014 regardless: I believed in the Green Party’s vision, and I hopped around my city (and the country) looking for ways I could help. I explained away inefficiency, poor practice and a frustrating lack of strategy because I believed in the cause. But at the end of it all, the Green Party ended up gaining no seats in 2015.
I relate this story because, as a 22-year old who’s now in the Labour Party, I see numerous people doing exactly the same thing that I did in my teenage years; except rather than doing it with a party, they are doing it with a single man — Jeremy Corbyn.Continue Reading
by Hannah Rose
Last week I met with two mental health campaigners following an RSA-hosted event at St Michael’s Church called: ‘Combating Norfolk’s Growing Mental Health Problem.’ The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts (RSA), Manufactures and Commerce is a fellowship-led organisation, whose aim is to encourage “the sharing of powerful ideas to deliver a 21st century enlightenment.” I’d gone in the hope of being enlightened.
Sadly, I was not.
by Natasha Senior
This is the message that Iain Duncan Smith and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) have been espousing over the last five years as benefits sanctions become ever more stringent. And now we are starting to get closer to understanding just how far they’re willing to go. After mounting public pressure and many Freedom of Information requests, the DWP have been forced to publish statistics showing that over 2,300 people have died after losing their benefits following fit for work assessments.Continue Reading
by Mike Vinti
The future of the BBC is uncertain. Despite John Whittingdale’s assurances everything is going to be ok, you can’t help but wonder — if they’re abolishing grants for disadvantaged students, cutting disability benefits and generally meddling in the NHS, why would they save the BBC? As the Tories start to enact their new budget, it seems nothing is safe.
The cuts have already started. Though its programming has been weak in recent years, the loss of BBC Three is symbolic of the Tories plans for the rest of the broadcaster. It hardly seems like a coincidence, especially in the context of Osbourne’s refusal to scrap the free license fee for over 65s, that the BBC’s youth-focused channel was A) its most neglected or B) the first of its services to go. The Tories’ cuts to the welfare state have disproportionately affected young people ,and if previous attempts are anything to go by, so will its gradual disintegration of the BBC.
This will be easy for Cameron and his underlings in the department of Culture, Media and Sport to achieve. The BBC has been losing young viewers and listeners from its TV and Radio stations for years.Continue Reading
by Jack Brindelli
On Monday the 20th of July the Norfolk County Council will meet for their Policy and Resources committee to begin working towards the forecast cuts of £169million to local services. It is a shameful capitulation to the national austerity policies that are destroying People’s lives across the United Kingdom.
Hardly inspired by Norfolk’s proud history of doing different, and fighting against tyranny and inequality for a better life, the grand scheme of the County Council’s much heralded ‘rainbow coalition’ to outfox the Tories, who council leader and Labour stalwart George Hobbs & Co went to such great lengths to keep out of local power, is to out-cut them. The ‘downsizing’ of public services is actually shaping up to be £50million more than even the criminal demands of the Conservative government, in order to buy the Council ‘breathing room’. I assume this cheery phrase used in this gloomy context is meant in the same way that Russian scientists famously kept a dog’s head ‘alive’ for a period of time with machinery — we may well live, but not well.Continue Reading
by Jack Brindelli
“I was taken aback at how brutal the police were,” begins Marion Fallon, a local anti-cuts activist from Norwich, and eye-witness to the events of Wednesday June 24th. “To attack such physically less able people, to protect the elite, really showed how democracy isn’t working. I don’t suppose it occurred to [the police], that disabled people are feeling they have to take more and more drastic measures, as we’re not being listened to and not being treated fairly and equally. I feel very, very worried and scared going forward as the Tories have taken us back decades in what was fought very hard for.”
She was speaking to me after a number of disabled protesters had attempted to gain access to Prime Ministers Questions in demonstration against the government’s ending of the Independent Living Fund. Marion, who is in constant pain and unable to walk without the aid of a stick, is also a first-hand witness of the government’s shameless remodelling of social security, as a recipient of disability benefits, and is extremely concerned for the future.Continue Reading
by Natasha Senior
The People’s Assembly Against Austerity national End Austerity demonstration takes place on Saturday 20th June. Assemble: 12pm, Bank of England (Queen Victoria Street). March to: Parliament Square.
Like a storm in the sea sending a tidal surge our way, the past 5 years under austerity tell us of looming devastation. We saw it gather momentum on the horizon, as the waves of cuts started to roll in — pay freezes for the public sector, caps on benefits and cuts to social housing. This left in its wake a falling GDP per capita, a decline in affordable housing, and the rise of food banks. And now that those responsible for this have been re-elected, we are shamelessly informed that the storm is not over, the worst is yet to come and we will not be rescued.Continue Reading
by Andrew Boswell and Richard Bearman, The Norwich Green Party
During the General Election campaign, the Green Party warned of another 5 years of continuing and unprecedented cuts to Local Authority budgets. We pointed out that the coalition and Labour backed the ongoing austerity programme, and that only the Green Party, SNP, and Plaid Cymru opposed this assault on public services. Unfortunately the election was strongly influenced by the TV party leaders debate, together with misleading sound bites and on-the-hoof policy changes designed to win over undecided voters. The election outcome does not reflect the lack of public support for more cuts to local services.
But plans announced this week by Norfolk County Council are seeing more devastating cuts to public services in Norfolk. Under its ‘Re-imagining Norfolk’ strategy, the Council has asked councillors and officers to plan for 25% of cuts to services in its Budget for the next 3 years. Current government funding reductions, pushed through by the Tories nationally, will require the council to cut its services by at least 15%. However the Labour, UKIP, and LibDem alliance has voted for plans to cut 25% instead of the required 15% to allow ‘headroom’. Continue Reading