THIS is The Alternative: The Ten Step Programme to U.K. National Recovery

Letters to the Editor


The human cost of George Osborne’s austerity politics is too high. We need to invest in jobs and increase benefits 


The loss of the UK’s triple-A rating, an economy teetering on the brink of a triple-dip recession and a deficit growing rather than shrinking – the news is not good for George Osborne just two weeks before his budget statement.

But before I risk evoking sympathy for the chancellor, it’s worth remembering that the human cost of his failing austerity policies is not merely reputational but material for millions of people. Increasing numbers of people are finding it impossible to make ends meet – with over 6 million unemployed or underemployed, hundreds of thousands dependent on food banks, and child poverty rising again.

So here is a 10-point plan to boost the economy in the public interest, in place of the government’s failing approach:

1. Break the pay freeze

Pay across all sectors has risen below inflation in the last four years – taking £50bn out of workers’ pockets. For the 250,000 public servants I represent it means they are more than £1,200 a year worse off. These real-term pay cuts are forcing millions to cut back on their spending, denting economic demand and forcing thousands deeper into debt and payday loan lenders. It would also reduce public spending on tax credits and housing benefit – 93% of new housing benefit claimants in the last two years have been in work.

2. Increase the minimum wage

The value of the minimum wage has been allowed to drop in recent years. If it had kept pace with inflation, it would be more than 6% higher. People on low incomes spend their wages because they need to – it prevents poverty – which puts money back into our economy.

3. Stop cutting jobs

Over 300,000 public sector jobs, including 75,000 in the civil service, have been cut under the coalition government. This has damaged local services and caused hardship for many of those without work. But public jobs also save money, and lives – the knock-on effects of public sector job cuts are visible and costly: mistakes are made due to higher workloads, fraud increases, standards of care and cleanliness fall in the NHS, emergency services don’t reach people in time.

4. Cap rents, not benefits

Housing benefit levels (around £23bn per year) are a national scandal. But the problem isn’t tenants, it’s landlords. By capping the level of rents we would save not only billions in housing benefit, but also thousands for private tenants to spend in the economy too.

5. Invest – and yes, that means borrowing more

The chancellor previously prioritised our credit rating because it influences the interest rate at which we can borrow. With historically low rates, the government should be borrowing to invest in job-creating opportunities: primarily house-building and renewable technology.

6. Scrap the work programme and increase benefit levels

Assessments of the government’s flagship welfare-to-work programme show that it is worse than doing nothing. Forcing people into workfare reduces work for those who want it and, as the DWP’s own studies show, is counterproductive in weak labour markets. The welfare state should not be providing free labour to profitable multinationals – if companies can provide work placements, they should be paid at the going rate. For people on social security, benefit levels have lost real value: in 1979 unemployment benefit was worth 21% of average earnings, today it’s just 11%. If we raised it to 21% again jobseeker’s allowance would be £130 a week instead of the measly £71 it currently is.

7. Nationalise the banks

The banks, still propped up with public money and many with large public shares, must be taken into public ownership. The bloated banking sector was the cause of the crisis, and still represents the largest systemic threat to relapsing into crisis. We support the TUC policy to bring the banks into public ownership (pdf). By controlling the banks we can cap bonuses, clamp down on tax dodging, end the inflated pay deals and direct investment to socially useful and job-creating schemes.

8. Scrap Trident

To say Trident is a necessary deterrent to defend our national security rather begs the question of why Germany and Japan haven’t been invaded, since their larger economies possess no nuclear weapons – and neither does more than 90% of the world. Our nuclear weapons suck in billions of public money and some of our best engineers and scientists. These resources can be put to much more socially beneficial use.

9. Close the tax gap

Thanks to the high-profile activities of UK Uncut and others, tax avoidance and evasion has even been described by David Cameron and Osborne as “morally wrong” and “morally repugnant”. Yet their government continues to cut jobs and resources from HM Revenue and Customs. Our research with the  Tax Justice Network suggests that £120bn in tax is evaded, avoided and left uncollected each year – dwarfing benefit fraud by a ratio of nearly 100 to 1.

10. Reverse the tax cuts for millionaires

From April this year the government will give those earning over £150,000 per year a tax break worth £3bn. While we’re at it, the corporation tax cuts should also be reversed – we already had the lowest rate in the G7, so largesse to the corporate sector is not a priority.

The Guardian

36 thoughts on “THIS is The Alternative: The Ten Step Programme to U.K. National Recovery

  1. Kelpiemare says:

    Common sense, at last! Now, all we need do is crack a few condemn skulls together, get their grey matter loosened from austerity built cobwebs, and get Britain growing again.

    Question. Why don’t we hear Ed Miliband making this his way forward? Bankers got his tongue too?

    1. NoOneIsListening says:

      Unintended pun here “condemn” – we are all “condemned” under this coalition!

  2. Andrew Healey says:

    We also need to restart apprenticeships in all trades. When Thatcher did away with apprenticeships in favour of the Y.O.P scheme in the late 70s it helped to destroy our industries. Also the last of the apprentices from that time are due to retire, they could be further employed as teachers to help boost their pensions to a decent level.

  3. Humanity2012 says:

    We Need a Revolution and Redistribution of Wealth from Rich to Poor

    Tax the Rich Not the Poor

    No Oppressive Taxes and Rip Off Prices For Essentials

    Re Nationalise the Utilities Now and Forever

    Ghosts and Zombies have More Life and Spirit in them than the British People

    Better Peaceful Revolution than Ruination

    1. Andrew Healey says:

      Hear Hear 100%. What was really disappointing was the results from the recent by election, It would seem still a large percentage of the Great British Public are mindless brain dead morons, Now if the ConDems had an orator on par with Hitler I could understand it. But the prats who voted seem to be taken in daily by the drivel spouted by an even bigger moron than they are. We need the 70% of non voters, Four million marching on London would be a cracking start

  4. Serenity says:

    Much use to us owning the banks? It’s because the interest rate is low that they don’t want too lend, if it were 20% they would be throwing money at us!
    The gov WTW is doing something filling the pockets of multinationals and private companies pockets too overflowing also benefit cuts are a boon for payday loan companies who’s interest rates are not funnily enough low? Of course we don’t own them.
    The con-dems do have an orator on par with Hitler the media.

  5. Andrew Healey says:

    The con-dems do have an orator on par with Hitler the media

    Sorry I stand ( well wobble ) corrected. in that case we need to catch their attention and I think a mass exodus south by the coach, car, lorry, and train full would do it, or a march on the scale of the Jarrow march. Every tsunami starts with a ripple. But you are correct I have never seen so much apathy, do you think they are putting something more than horse meat in our food. I tried to explain to my 15 year old grand daughter last night, what was in store for her and her brothers future, at one point I thought I’d seen a faint glimmer in her eye, I will keep pressing her, drilling it into her mind, I did manage to get through to a couple of 20 year old lads a while ago, Summer is on it’s way and the festivals are due to start. It might be nice if some of the kids took some placards with them. We have to try anything to start that ripple. If I’m lucky I may have two or three years left in me, but I will never give up this fight, we can’t afford to.

    1. Kelpiemare says:

      I always get the notion that my family switch off when I, reading paper or on net, lift my head and utter…”…..what planet are these morons from….etc etc…..”. However, I was pleasantly shocked to hear my youngest (24) had, after being questioned by pollster, given a lucid, full and frank response to his questions. The pollster suggested she was by no means the “norm”. So I wonder, is it apathy of our age group that has bred intense apathy in our children?

      So, Andrew, keep at them-it does penetrate… can be assured the condemn voters have been encouraging their offspring with the constant denegration of anyone on less than 60,000 a year. Plus bonuses. Naturally.

      No pasaran. #ESAendgame WOWpetition

  6. Serenity says:

    Referring to the claim that 1,100 new jobs had been created, the SWP stated, “A planned strike by PCS union members has been called off after management concessions.” It quoted “Left wing Labour MP John McDonnell”, stating, “Thank goodness the government has seen sense. The union has secured a tremendous breakthrough to protect its members’ jobs.”

    There is nothing vaguely left wing about groups whose sole function is to justify the politics of class betrayal not class struggle. At all times their sole concern is to maintain the authority and control of the unions, as they continue to snuff out any opposition and collaborate with overturning of past gains.

    OMG what next Martin McGuinness meeting the Queen?

  7. Ian Blackburn says:

    It is a reasonable work in progress of ideas. The biggest change would be to move some of the business and government to the regions well away from London. It would reduce the overheating in the South East and provide growth to where it is needed.
    Scrap trident would save billions, good idea.
    Bring in a Living Wage that even Boris Johnson agrees with.
    Take everyone earning less than £12500, min wage, out of tax.
    Lower vat to fifteen percent for a year. Reduce it to five percent for home renovation projects.
    Build one and two bedroom houses that ordinary folk can afford to rent or buy. So creating jobs.
    No need to nationalise the banks, just take back the money we have given them. If they go bust we do not save them. The money given to them so far would have been better issued direct to businesses. But only those that can prove that money will create jobs and home produced goods and services. Not just sit in a banks balance sheet.
    Expose the misinformation of Duncan-Smith, Osborne and cameron at every opportunity. We must win the hearts and minds of ordinary folk that what they are being told by this coalition is just wrong.
    We can win

  8. DAVID SHAW says:

    Those who can change the country for the better do not exist in the wealthy strata of society. For their view is so warped that they have no conception of reality. Those who will change things are those who live at the sharp end and have used their minds and experience to present a real and valid alternative to the lies and spin of this vile fascist government.

  9. Andrew Healey says:

    All reasonable ideas but I think anyone on £400 or less a week should be taken out of tax, Rents today are close to a £100 a week, Council tax, God knows, food for a family close to £100, water, gas and electric, at least £50, by the time you’ve finished paying insurance, travel to and from work, phone bills, internet, and I’m sure at least another 10 services or products there would not be much left out of £400. The point being a decent living wage, no housing benefit,council tax etc etc people would be able to pay their own way, welfare savings could be massive, I’m sure more than you would lose in tax revenue. Tory’s are only interested in how to get something for nothing, all Tory’s I have worked for in the past have resented paying wages full stop. They all seem to think everything is theirs by God given right and everyone else just their boot lickers. This current lot of Tories and closet Tories are nothing more than opportunist thieves and don’t mind destroying OUR country while they do it.

  10. K Peake says:

    The people to fight are not the chappies in nappies but the old-timers disseminating their bollocks in the tabloids. The BBC would be too scared to stand alone.

  11. K Peake says:

    Is this a holy thing to see,
    In a rich and fruitful land,
    Babes reduced to misery,
    Fed by cold and usurous hand?

    Is that trembling cry a song?
    Can it be a song of Joy?
    And so many children poor?
    It is a land of poverty!

    And their sun does never shine.
    And their fields are bleak and bare.
    And their ways are fill’d with thorns
    It is eternal winter there

    For where-e’er the sun does shine,
    And where-e’er the rain does fall:
    Babe can never hunger there,
    Nor poverty the mind appall.

    Does JSA have to be set so low that it triggers physical and mental illnesses. If so, at least give us scrounger philosopher outcasts a bloody rationale. Abusive word or two.

  12. Nigel Simmons says:

    Cameron/Blair’s rhetoric and spin has plunged this Country into a mire ,ordinary Joe Blogs like the majority of us – the people they supposedly are paid to represent have shown their true colours and run this Country for their own benefit .Just one of many local factories in Lincolnshire employs two thirds Lithuanians whom all send their money back to their own Country .This is happening all over the Country – no wonder we are lacking jobs and incoming revenue .The Idiots are winning to take us back to the dark ages .A non conformist stance at every level should be implemented .The slave trade ended years ago

  13. K Peake says:

    Is it fair on the taxpayer that my every waking thought is given over to worrying about the grim reaper’s next move and what I’m going to do about it instead of attending to my health with a view to finding work and becoming acceptable?

  14. K Peake says:

    Is it fair on responsible taxpayers that they have to take on the responsibilities of the state and allow their irresponsible peers to walk on the other side?

  15. K Peake says:

    Is it fair to the taxpayer that Iain Duncan Smith is to inherit most of Swanbourne and the accompanying Manor House prep school where the children of the establishment are treated at a whopping cost to the taxpayer to a first class education in a magnificent setting in preparation for Eton, Oxbridge and ownership of the Cabinet, realm, Daily Mail, Bank of England and anywhere and everywhere decisions about us scroungers can be taken? The pastoral care of the children is second to none because this is a “Christian” school in precisely the same way that he is a “Christian”, i.e. not in any way, shape or form.

    You might think he wasn’t interested in inheriting all this from his wife’s father but when a person goes in for selling and marketing arms you do have to wonder. Surely the first thing a moral man would do would be to abolish free education for the children of the state in order not to soak up such taxes to fund elitism?

  16. K Peake says:

    Is it fair to the taxpayer that they should, perhaps unknowingly, be complicit in handing the surival of poor children over to decent people at foodbanks while they keep the children at IDS’s Manor House Prep school fed, watered, nourished and exercised well beyond the dreams of most taxpayers who possibly have their own children to feed too.

  17. Hoagy Carmichael says:

    funny seen on telly
    bloke by name of – Christian Guy
    from – Centre for Social Justice (IDS club for the insane and anti-democratic)

  18. GEOFF REYNOLDS says:

    Unfortunately the solution to the problem is not the problem of the solution? We are mired in what you would call, an unsolvable enigma.

    No matter what we are supposed to do, we find ourselves in a situation with no escape!
    Stealing the money of the disabled is an ongoing trauma, the legacy of Gunnyeons twisted computerised policies.

    The statute allowed to steal from the very weakest in our society….
    Whilst we fight the unnecessary evil the chasers demand the right to redraw the laws to hide behind the curtains of toryism, theft by stealth……

    So much is being said about the so called, bedroom tax, obviously, not enough….
    Introduce an unpopular policy, pretend to doctor it to suit the masses and “voila” , a new statute is accepted.

    Bedroom tax, whatever way you look at it, is a complete piss take!, an absurdity on the very lives you lead.
    One step away from taxing the air you breathe……
    For fucks sake, wake up and be counted!

    Ministers , like Shapps, the worthless piece of shit, amongst the clergy, the caring side of tory propaganda, are now shouting foul play. This is all part of the con. Together they pretend to be on the side of the oppressed and bring to light the unfairness…..
    This is absolute bollocks, part of the plot, an exercise in making the voter feel that something is being addressed.

    Nothing is being addressed whatsoever, you are being led down a path that accepts unfair taxation by resolve, complete political bullshit!
    Whether they accept a policy with adjustments to the disabled or poor is totally irrelevant, they are robbing the majority………..

    Its all part of the political script, appease them and they will feel as they have gained something………..
    Whatever way you look at it, you are being professionally shafted and pissed upon from a great height!!!!

    The modern prophets of doom, Bill Gunnyeon,the ANGEL OF DEATH, Josef Mengele of the keyboard is taking away the lowly value of your lives.
    Disability is not an award, its a discipline thrust on a person, not by choice, but fate.
    Understand this and be proud…………. you are unique.

    You have come to realise your shortcoming whilst they pretend they dont have one. We are the victors, carrying the medal of what we have given to life. Disability should not be a burden, surely an understanding of ones commitment……

    Shame is the burden of a people who cannot get to grips with the uniqueness of what we gave……….

  19. GEOFF REYNOLDS says:

    Economic recovery, talk of apprenticeships, all rhetoric without foundation.
    Butlins going overseas to recruit cheap labour and the tories talking of scrapping the human rights act.
    Forty seven countries appreciate the act as a datum line, specifying that people be afforded a standard of life to adhere to.

    It does’nt take a brain surgeon to realise why our government want out. Surely its an indicator that the times of the workhouse and chimney boys will be back in vogue……

    Along with poverty, and pestilence………..

  20. @TreatUsFair says:

    I would like to see all previous benefit fraud investigations reassessed to make sure those accused of benefit fraud were not forced to pay back more money than they should have.

    DWP don’t get the figures right we need an FULL independent review of all benefit fraud cases.

    It is UNJUST that benefit claimants accused of fraud are being forced to pay back money to DWP which DWP are not entitled to have,

    DWP do not apply the law correctly and do get the overpayment figures wrong.

    Nobody seems to care that this injustice is going on.

  21. Nigel Simmons says:

    BROKEN BRITAIN UNDER TORIES – WEAK CAMERON LET POSSESSED SMITH RUN AMOK Cameron is either weak not to have insisted on Smiths cabinet move or he is as morally corrupt by allowing him to go as far as he has .It is total fabrication that Welfare Reform will heal this Countries Finances also total spin Labour left a Deficit which caused the Financial Fiasco .Labour inherited a Deficit from Thatcher ,and we all know how austere her policies were .She invited corrupt UNUM into our country to trail blaze Welfare Reform ,Pensions ,ATOS Assessments ect .Blair the Closet Tory continued and Cameron only knowing how to ride criminal friends horses and the £ sign knew no better but to follow suit ,letting his attack dogs Smith ,Grayling and idiot Osborne have free reign to our detriment .This Country whomever you vote for is now a JOKE through a minorities total failings

  22. jay says:

    In other words Government statistics not just in the USA are lies, lies and more lies.
    Something that those with a brain in the UK know all too well.

    Yet we still get smiling news reporters happily stating that unemployment has fallen, blah, blah, blah.

    And we have the bizarre situation of those unemployed on the work programme being counted as being in employment yet they receive no wage and are being paid JSA because they are looking for work.

    Officially they are not unemployed!

  23. jed goodright says:

    Just at this minute in parliament the labour party is colluding with the coalition government to remove the human rights of prison officers etc in the context of setting up the new law agency in this country. Dont expect the labour party to be in any way interested in the wellbeing of the citizens(subjects) of this country

  24. alan says:

    when we all become destitute/homeless and the wealthy are using us as servants that will be normal to the rich maybe in april and not much news of late out of black triangle the protest 16 march 13 all to do with benifits any news any where/////

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