Responses to Osborne's Cuts
We find a small ray of sunshine amidst the gathering storm
Former Bank of England policy advisor David Blanchflower has called Osborne's cuts "appalling cowardice" in the face of the economic war that is the recession, and has warned "The austerity package is likely to turn out to be the greatest macro-economic mistake in a century."
George Monbiot sees something more sinister than cowardice behind the decision to scrap some quangos - including Consumer Focus, the voice of UK consumers and the Sustainable Development Commission - rather than others: "Public bodies whose purpose is to hold corporations to account are being swept away. Public bodies whose purpose is to help boost corporate profits, regardless of the consequences for people and the environment, have sailed through unharmed."
The Bank of England reckons that the too-big-to-fail banks are enjoying over £50 billion a year in extra profits from taxpayer guarantees. But they're still not lending to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that the Coalition claims can take up the slack of nearly half a million job losses in the public sector
"For the private sector to have any chance of generating the additional jobs, it will first be critical to address the stagnation of lending from the banks to small and medium enterprises,” according to Nicola Steuer, Programme Director at the New Economics Foundation (NEF). “SMEs are the bedrock of the UK private sector. In any event, some parts of the UK will be hit disproportionately hard by these cuts and the Government is mistaken if it believes that the private sector alone will be able to stop further inequalities in our society developing.”
“These cuts reveal the not-so-hidden agenda of David Cameron’s Big Society,” said Anna Coote, Head of Social Policy at NEF. “The Government wants to reduce the deficit by replacing paid with unpaid labour through more ‘voluntary’ action. But the net result is a double-whammy for Britain’s poorest communities. On the one hand, support for third-sector groups is being slashed as local councils take the brunt of the cuts. On the other hand, the very same groups are expected to deliver the ‘Big Society’ by filling the gaps left by a retreating state. Life will get a lot tougher for those who are already the most disadvantaged – a recipe for social injustice and wider inequalities.”
Previous NEF research has indicated that there already exists a ‘jobs gap’ between the number of people able to work, and the number of jobs available, particularly in the North of England. For every 100 people able to work in the North East, there are only 72 jobs. Whereas in the South East, there are 86 jobs per 100 people able to work.
But for renewables it was largely good news as support was confirmed for both the Feed-in Tariff (FiT), which will remain at its published level until the planned review in 2013, and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). In the first research of its kind Ethical Consumer has surveyed the environmental and ethical policies of 13 companies who supply solar power panels to the UK domestic market, as well as giving the low down on the FiT and the RHI.
Good Energy's CEO Juliet Davenport said: "The growth in microgeneration installations since FiT was first launched in April shows what an important role these tariffs have to play in driving renewable energy generation amongst individuals, communities and businesses.
Helping people to both produce and use energy locally and making it a visible part of the local community means people will value their energy more and use it less - resulting in bigger carbon savings overall. I'm also delighted that the RHI will go ahead with only a few adjustments from the original announcement. Currently, only 1% of total heat demand comes from renewable sources, which the Government clearly recognises needs to rise if we are to meet our renewable energy targets."