Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Austerity Cuts

Cuts to public services and benefits that disproportionately affect the least well-off, single parents and disabled people put the government in breach of its human rights obligations, a study for the UK equalities watchdog has found.

“There were a lot of choices, and the government chose to balance the budget on the backs of the poorest,” said the study’s co-author, Jonathan Portes, a professor of economics at King’s College London.

The decision to load austerity cuts excessively on to vulnerable groups contravenes the non-discrimination principles the UK is signed up to under international human rights law, the report said. There was little evidence ministers had taken equality factors into account when taking tax and spending decisions.

The poorest 20% of people in England lost an average of 11% of their incomes as a result of austerity, compared with zero losses for the top fifth of households.

Measured in cash terms, total spending on public services will have fallen by £1,500 per household in England by 2021-22.

Findings include:
  • Lone-parent households lost out most from tax and spending changes, on average. In England, their losses amount to 19% of income, compared with 10.5% in Wales and 7.6% in Scotland.
  • Big families lose out more than smaller ones. Average losses for families with three or more children were 13% of final income, compared with between 7% and 8% in Scotland and Wales.
  • Households containing people with a disability, younger households with an average adult age of 18-24, and black households were disproportionately affected by austerity cuts.

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