Chancellor George Osbourne told us that this was a "fair budget" from a "progressive coalition" and I agree. Well, I agree as long as by "fair budget" we mean one that makes the most vulnerable destitute and homeless and by "progressive coalition" we mean shower of shits.
Last night I attended the Camden protest rally the cuts outside the town hall, a protest that was mirrored in dozens of other places across London and the country (Hove, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh (pictured), Parliament Square, Bristol, Portsmouth, and many others, add your report link in the comments). I think once people begin to realise the extent of the attacks we will see more and more of this sort of thing.
It was not a surprise that this was a cuts budget although I think the scale of the cuts has only really begun to sink in now it's been formally announced. Osbourne may have let the banks off lightly and reduced corporation tax but public services are in deep, deep trouble.
A two year pay freeze for public sector workers earning more than 21k and a minimal raise for those below that line, raising the pensionable age, part privatisation of Royal Mail, education cuts of 25% over four years, in fact all departments, except international development and health, will be expected to cut their budget by a quarter in this time. Bloody hell, that's not trimming the fat it's sawing off the arms and legs.
Then we have things like cuts to swimming, cuts to disability benefit, freezing child benefit and reducing eligibility for child tax credits, freezing council tax, very low housing benefit caps, 10% cut in housing benefit for those on benefits for more than a year, stricter regime for single parents. This is not cool.
It's the VAT hike to 20% that's likely to cause the strongest ripples across both left and right as it hits families hard and adds the tax burden on those who are deemed too poor to pay income tax.
While the Lib Dems appear to have won a concession on cider duty it may well be a double bonus for those who voted for the Lib Dems because not only does Clegg and co get to sit at the big table, they get cheap booze to chug in the shop doorways once they've been laid off and thrown onto the streets. Good times.
- The Guardian's full budget coverage.
- Caroline Lucas on the budget.
- Left Foot Forward looks at the responses in Wales, Scotland and N. Ireland.
- Richard Osley spots that Dappy (from NDubz) cannot support cuts in benefits.
- Two Doctors imagines what the Lib Dems might be thinking.
- Johnny Void on housing benefit reform.
- Raphie de Santos says a cuts based economy will fail.
- Nick Pearce thinks it is incredible to call this budget fair.
- The SSP alternative budget.
- Bright Green Scotland has the budget A-Z.
- HarpyMarx gives the Labour left response.
- Jane Watkinson thinks the Lib Dems may be starting to wake up.
- Disability funds run dry.
- Michael Meacher looks at the myths behind the budget.
- Lib Con asks how we should respond.