The recent welfare cuts that have threatened to impoverish millions of Britain’s poorest people are a direct result of the Conservative’s economic plan to balance the books by the end of this parliament. The government’s austerity measures are hoping to cut the welfare bill by £12billion but the result has made thousands turn to the streets and protest against these measures.
The Conservatives stated their plans in the 2015 general election campaign to make cuts in order to balance the books. But what many didn't appreciate was their secretiveness about what they would be cutting. Alternatively, Labour didn't have plans to balance the books by 2020 but they still had policies of austerity in order to decrease the deficit.
Both parties agreed that the deficit needed reducing but it was the Conservatives that stated their immediate intention to balance the books. It would've been against all tides if a Labour or Tory politician argued that balancing the books wasn't that important. Moreover, it would've been electoral suicide as the general feeling amongst the public was economically charged with hope to reduce the deficit.
But how important is it to balance the books and does the deficit actually mean anything?
Austerity measures ultimately mean cuts. These can be to welfare as are currently happening or cuts in defence, the health service or even an increase on taxation. To balance the books quickly, there is no doubt that austerity is the only way. But, as the SNP, the Greens and Plaid all agree, the deficit should be paid off but it doesn't matter if it takes a little longer for the sake of not impoverishing people.
Prosperity measures such as an increase on the minimum wage, investment in businesses, transport and infrastructure allows an economy to increase and the sitting government’s purse to expand, bringing down the deficit gradually with a booming economy. This does take a lot longer than immediate cuts but this doesn't hinder the lives of the people. It doesn't make people lose their houses because they can’t afford the rent. It doesn't enforce people to go to food banks because they can’t afford to feed their families. And it doesn't put innocent children at risk.
Balancing the books isn't important if people are being put at risk. If the price of one person’s life means a reduction of digits on a country’s deficit, then the sitting government doesn't care about its people. Britain can survive without balancing the books and cutting £12billion from the welfare budget. The interlinked relationship between the rightwing media and government has spread a wave of fear about national debt. They use the economic situation in Greece to scare us into agreeing with them. This tactic has allowed them to have a reason to make such cuts and impoverish millions of people.