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Digital Subscriptions > iScot Magazine > May/June 2019 > Banking on an end to austerity

Banking on an end to austerity

BANKERS, eh? Even without resorting to rhyming slang, banks and bankers are not enjoying a golden period in the eyes of the public. And with good reason as, aided and abeted by the ill-conceived neoliberal deregulation started by the Thatcher government but embraced and extended by Gordon Brown as Labour Chancellor in 1997, they are largely responsible for the so-called inancial crash of 2008 and the austerity economics imposed on the UK by the Tories since 2010. Let’s not forget, the rationale for imposing ‘austerity measures’ was to ensure the UK national debt was eliminated over a 5-year period. Notwithstanding whether or not that was, or is, the most important factor in managing the economy, that was the Tory/Lib Dem government’s priority so let’s see how that panned out…

Well, according to the Oice for National Statistics, when Gideon Osborne, the then Tory Chancellor, introduced his masterplan the UK national debt stood at £1.2 trillion – today, ater 9 years of austerity, the debt is £1.8 trillion! Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, reported on the human costs of austerity in the UK last year:

The costs of austerity have fallen disproportionately upon the poor, women, racial and ethnic minorities, children, single parents, and people with disabilities. The changes to taxes and beneits since 2010 have been highly regressive, and the policies have taken the highest toll on those least able to bear it. The government says everyone’s hard work has paid of, but according to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, while the botom 20% of earners will have lost on average 10% of their income by 2021/22 as a result of these changes, top earners have actually come out ahead. Signiicantly, his report praised the Scotish Government for their eforts to mitigate the worst efects of UK policies but, overall, he concludes:

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An independent publication celebrating the innovation, successes and achievements of Scots while promoting the nation’s interests, culture and influence to a world-wide audience