Monday, 5 July 2010

Whose Cuts? What Harms?

The need for massive cuts in public spending is the new common sense. We are told by Liberals and Tories that There is No Alternative.  But the reality is we have many possibilities. The road being followed by the coalition is only one option and it is an option that will do a great deal of damage to social equality, the poorest and weakest in our society. The rich and powerful are likely to do very well thank you.

The reality is we already live in a very unequal society. No where is this more apparent than in death rates. Last week the National Audit Office revealed that the poor are still dying 10 years earlier than the rich.  At a time when it is proposed to defer the age for State retirement benefits until 70 this is highly relevant.  Poor people will be disproportionally effected by this (rich people can chose when to retire) and although man living in Kensington & Chelsea can look forward to over 14 years life after their 70th Birthday in Blackpool men die on average until there are 73.6.  This means reducing their retirement from 8.6 years to only 3.6 years.

In fact the reality may be considerably worse.  Although the Tory led coalition are protecting NHS spending our health is determined by a far greater range of factors.  The NHS treats us when we are ill rather than stopping us getting unwell. An article in the British Medical Journal reported by BBC News has found
Generally the trends showed that when social spending - including support for families and the unemployed - was high, death rates fell, but when they were low, rates rose substantially. In fact, for every £70 drop in spending per person there was a 1.19% rise in overall deaths.
So it likely that the massive cuts in welfare spending currently being proposed will reduce average life expectancy and that this average reduction will disproportionally impact on the poorer.  Therefore places like Blackpool will see there average life expectancy reduce from the current 73.6 and move downwards towards the new retirement age of 70.

Fortunately the policies of the Tories and Liberals are not inevitable and the extent to which they will be implemented will be impacted on by the level of resistance they experience.  So get active, get campaigning and remember Arundhati Roy's brilliant quote:
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

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