The above picture was taken while I was out delivering leaflets in Dane Valley this morning. In a way this speaks for the plight of so many people in Thanet. Currently the Conservative led coalition is reducing benefits, making massive cuts to public sector jobs, and cutting programmes that are aimed at reducing long term and youth unemployment, such as the Future Jobs Fund. All of this is under the mantra that we are ‘all in this together’. This could not be further from the truth.
The massive benefits cuts are going to hit families hard and all we hear in the media and from the Government is that going onto benefits is a choice. For some people this is true as it is a much easier way of getting money than working. However for the most it is not a choice. There are few jobs locally and it is only going to get worse. Businesses are cutting back on workers as there is not the capital available. Schools and hospitals are being hit hard with tightened budgets meaning that teachers, learning support assistants, doctors and nurses are being made redundant. Youth unemployment has skyrocketed to 20.5%, and this is only going to get worst. For many there is no choice on whether to go onto benefits, it is simply the state of Thanet’s employment at the moment. People are being penalised for not having jobs, but there just are not the jobs out there. In effect minimum subsistence is being cut and those who are most vulnerable are going to be hit hardest.
The Conservative led coalition Government has been saying ever since May that cuts made to the public sector and Government schemes will be made up by the Private Sector. This isn’t happening. In the Thanet area we have had the disastrous closure of Pfizer which will lead to 2400 direct job losses and many more support jobs lost as well. This will further lengthen an already long unemployment queue. When will the Government admit it has got it wrong on growth?
Finally the new localism that is supposed to give people more power is a sham. By cutting jobs and benefits the Government is taking away peoples basic human rights and leaving people powerless, further enhancing the dependency culture. The cuts are too hard and too fast. The budget deficit needs cutting that much is obvious. However this is an ideological choice to cut so hard and fast and it will have disastrous effects on society. What does it matter if we solve the budget deficit but are left with a more disastrous and long term social breakdown? The rhetoric of deficit reduction is one of saving our future children. How about the children, vulnerable and youth of today?