Monday, March 08, 2021

Bailing out the Bosses

The Budget took place on Wednesday, a most inconvenient time for the New Worker. However as the days are long gone when it was customary for Chancellors to resign if so much as a paragraph appeared in the newspapers beforehand, we have a good idea of what it contains without recourse to a crystal ball.
    Regardless of the details, it will safe to assert the Budget, despite the rhetoric, will be designed for the benefit of the capitalist class rather than the working class even if a few crumbs are allowed to fall from the rich man’s table, but these crumbs are solely for the purpose of keeping the working class from grumbling too much. The extension of the furlough scheme until September might be regarded as a good thing, but the fact that a Tory Chancellor thinks it will be needed is a sign that the economy will not be making the promised bounce back any time soon despite the Chancellor’s claims the economy will be back to normal by the middle of next year. The Trades Union Congress has demanded that it be continued until the end of the year.
    What is not said is often as significant as what is said. Workers in the NHS have had a real-time 19 per cent pay cut since the joyous days of the last Labour Government came to an end according to the public sector unions. While they got plenty of Thursday evening rounds of applause in the early days of the pandemic it proved impossible to exchange claps in shops. Unions wants a 15 per cent rise, but it that seems to have been ruled out. Campaigning group Disabled People Against Cuts have denounced the Treasury’s refusal to extend the modest temporary £20 Universal Credit increase which has been a lifeline for many.
    Obviously the Tories have more important priorities. One of their deserving causes is the Beerage. A £150 million fund is to be established to help community groups acquire their local pubs if the breweries want to off-load them if they are not profitable enough. No doubt such funding, of up to £250,000 matching funding will be carefully distributed in marginal constituencies.
    Another deserving cause is offering free “MBA style” management training for firms who are not terribly clever at doing their job.
    Bread and Circuses are to the fore in both a £300 million fund for sport and £400 million for the arts. He has promised £25 million of new funding to support grassroots football, which is claimed will build about 700 new pitches up and down the UK. That might go some way to reverse a decade of schools being forced sell their sports fields for housing, and perhaps to compensate for the closure or privatisation of council run sports facilities.
    To keep the luvvies happy £400 million is going to the arts which has been more or less entirely closed for a year. While we need not shed too may tears for the fat ladies and men of Covent Garden and Glynebourne many who work in the sector are freelancers who have fallen through the many cracks in the schemes set up for the self-employed.
    Other deserving causes include the shopocracy who are to get £5 billion for the benefit of some 700,000 shops, restaurants, hotels, hair salons, gyms and other businesses in England, struggling High Street shops and hospitality firms in England, with similar largesse for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
    To benefit the property market the Chancellor will bringing back 95 per cent mortgages which in future years will provide a boom for advisors in handling debt problems. Launching a council house building programme was unlikely to be on the pre-Budget discussions.

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