The Fairness Test for Cuts
Today, the TUC joined a coalition of charities, including the Equality Trust the Child Poverty Action Group and Barnardo’s to ask the leaders of the main parties to commit to a Fairness Test on any tax rises or spending cuts they would introduce in government.
We know, from the experience of previous rounds of cuts, that cuts in public services tend to hit the poorest the hardest. Services – such as Sure Start – are often designed with poorer families in mind; cuts in these services therefore tend to be particularly regressive. The lower your income, the less likely you are to be able to afford any alternative, so cuts tend to reduce the freedom of the poor far more than the rich.
In addition, we know that social security benefits and tax credits are likely targets for cuts. There is increasing speculation that, just as in Mrs Thatcher’s time, a new round of cuts would begin with a benefits freeze. A freeze would mean that, once inflation is taken into account, people who have to rely on Britain’s disgracefully low benefit rates would be even poorer. Child poverty and inequality would most certainly get worse.
As the National Equality Panel concluded:
“A fundamental question is now whether the costs of recovery will be borne by those who gained least in the period before the crisis, or by those who gained most, and are in the strongest position to bear them.”
I can see it’s going to be a return to my youth – campaigning against cuts in public services. All the political parties that plan cuts should commit to an equality impact assessment of those cuts: all the party leaders claim to want to reduce inequality, this is a chance to show that they mean what they say.