March 19, 2014 11.31 am This story is over 92 months old

Austerity is working — for some

Not everyone benefits: Local councillor Pete Dixon questions how the government’s austerity measures are working for everyday people.

Let no one be in doubt. Austerity is working, and working well. The policy enacted to support this, and previous governments’, adoration of the free market and neoliberal economics has thus far been a complete success.

Austerity continues to serve well those it was intended to benefit and has, as planned, created new opportunities for corporate expansion into public sector services. Austerity is not the “we’re all in this together” policy the nation has been forced to stoically accept.

Austerity has ensured that those who should have been held accountable for their contribution to the financial crash of 2008 have been both protected and allowed to grow richer.

Austerity has nothing to do with settling debts or living within our means, it’s about conditioning. Conditioning us to accept our lot and be thankful for it. Instilling into the individual the fear that losing your job is just around the corner unless you accept a pay freeze, a pay cut, a zero hours contract or some other restrictive condition that enables smaller businesses to stay afloat or corporate coffers to swell with excessive profit. Shut up, keep your heads down and ignore the woes of those around you. Their problems are their fault.

Statistics, disgracefully manipulated, have alleged disability benefits are being claimed by the idle and work shy. Ian Duncan Smith at the DWP with despicable ease, picks out and points an accusing finger at “benefit scroungers”. Using divisive and scornful propaganda, our government has actively sought, and succeeded, in creating a divided society rife with anger and distrust.

Blame the man next door who was made redundant at 55 and can’t find another job, let alone one which will cover his bills. Blame the single mother with a bedroom too many, or those too ill to work. Ignore tax avoidance and evasion of around £100bn annually by those with more wealth than moral conscience.

Public sector pay freezes and modified pension plans were imposed. The media reported patients were suffering, receiving poor care from uncaring staff who enjoy incredible pensions that those in the private sector could only dream of, allegedly. Teachers, council staff, the emergency services, were all considered fair game. How dare they enjoy a free lunch and abuse the hard working tax payers of this land? No mention of the fact they are tax payers too.

Austerity is an ideologically-driven policy, and has been successfully sold to an unquestioning, compliant majority as a necessity because, as Cameron, Osborne and Clegg repeatedly preach, “we must learn to live within our means”. Let’s ignore the fact that the crash of 2008 occurred as a result of financial institutions, and the masterminds who run them, disregarding that simple principle in the avaricious pursuit of profit.

Cuts have brought about outsourcing and private companies have been handed huge contracts with minimal consequences, even compensation for failure. With employees on zero hour contracts and stagnant or scandalously low wages, contracts for public services have been won by companies whose heads are known to have political links and given donations to party coffers.

Whilst this wretched policy of austerity rolls on, we the taxpayers are expected to absorb yet more debt by borrowing from the banks — the very people who abused and failed us in the first place. If we are to continue to worship at the altar of the free market economy, when “recovery” does occur, you can be certain of one thing, it won’t be one in which “we’re all in it together”.

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Pete Dixon is a town councillor for Moor ward in North Hykeham, a member of the Green Party and Chair of the local branch. He works for the NHS at Lincoln County Hospital. Father of a young daughter, he's also a keen biker and enjoys watching Moto GP or a glass of Islay malt.