Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Good work by the IFS poses a challenge to the TUC

Good for the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) for debunking Tory claims that the Emergency budget was not distributionally regressive (http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/5245). In Plain English the IFS show that the ConDems are hitting the poor harder than the better off with June's changes to tax and benefits.

They contradict the Government by taking out of their assessment of the impact of budget measures on different income groups those measures already proposed by the last Government - and by taking account of the impact of measures which the Government conveniently ignored.

The full research is online (http://www.ifs.org.uk/pr/progressive_budget.pdf) and is receiving positive media coverage.

One important factor taken into account by the IFS is the plan - from April 2011 - to uprate benefits and tax credits (as well as occupational pensions) in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than the Retail Price Index (RPI), which will cause benefits to decline in value by an increasing amount each year. This is clearly a regressive measure hitting the poor harder in absolute as well as relative terms.

Here is a simple issue around which to unite, not only those, working and retired, who have seen the value of our occupational pensions attacked but also all those whose living standards will start to decline from April as the uprating of benefits and tax credits is depressed.

The trade unions can lead a campaign to reverse this measure in the name of equality as well as enlightened (and entirely legitimate) collective self-interest. This would fit perfectly alongside existing campaigns - including UNISON's Million Voices (http://www.unison.org.uk/million).

The TUC General Council has the power to do this - but only if we start taking action. It is a shame that proposals for a demonstration on 23 October were scuppered at the July General Council but at least those of us in London can consider marching to the lobby of Parliament which is being arranged.

Before the autumn everyone should invest in some comfortable and robust footwear as we will be doing a lot of marching, lobbying and protesting (ideally being led by our leaders).

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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