The comprehensive spending review for 2015/16 has only just come to an exhausting end and we’re in a tailspin of figures, government departments, heckling and bad Ed Balls jokes.
We can’t imagine what it’s like to be one of the most disliked men in the country, up there with the Jimmy Savilles of this world (for fiddling figures not kids), but however it feels George got up and delivered us the depressing news. Basic fact is we need to save another £11.5bn – don’t all leave the country at once. The country’s in a bad way. You know it, we know it; apparently even George and his old boys club know it and it wasn’t long before the ‘We’re All In This Together’ klaxon went off.
Osborne delivered his review using language to convince us that these were cuts we had done together. Like we’d sat in the room sharing his Diet Coke, burger and chips as he finished off his speech last night and eagerly nodded our approval at everything on his list. Except we didn’t, we shouldn’t and we can’t.
Not that any of that matters. The cuts for 2015/16 are set and as living standards continue to fall alongside stagnant wages is it any wonder George looked a bit pale in the build up to his speech. Does it strike anyone else as odd that we’re planning cuts TWO years from now when we already know the ones we have aren’t working as well as they should be? People in Britain are slowly suffocating as opposed to being brutally, but temporarily, winded. Neither option is one you’d want to choose but we reckon one swift move now is preferable to what is starting to feel like a lifetime of belt tightening.
So what stood out?
Pensioners living in hot countries will no longer receive Winter Fuel Payments – WTAF?! We’re more mad this was allowed to happen in the first place as opposed to happy it’s ‘sorted’ now. Good one George.
Can’t speak English? No help for you! – Under the overall benefit cap (except state pensions) you need to make an effort to learn English to receive benefits. Seems logical but Government language schemes have already been cut. So you have to ask yourself, who’s delivering this programme?
Welfare Reform – We’ll have to wait SEVEN days since losing our jobs before you can get ANY benefit help. Because if God can make the world in seven days you can surely rustle up another job, you lazy get.
Council Tax freeze offered until 2016 – Great stuff! Except it’s an offer only and not all councils will take the Government up on it because it can still cost them.
Public Sector job losses and more pay freezes – 144,000 jobs will be lost in the public sector but it’s okay because apparently for every one PS job lost FIVE are created in private sector. Also there will be no more automatic pay rises and progression pay ( except in armed forces)
10% cut to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland offices – No complete devolution for you guys at the moment which will help relations between us all good (NOT) particularly when the Chancellor squeaks in a comment about how good it is to be a part of the UK (hint hint Scotland, you’re not going anywhere).
Huge increase for intelligence services – A 3.4% increase to be precise. Not bad considering the bad press around Government spying, PRISM and Edward Snowden at the moment.
Ed Balls stepped up and appeared to have acquired his on backing group of ‘yeppers’ as he reeled off why the Chancellor had failed. But we knew he was going to come out with that. Rightly or wrongly, depending on your political affiliation, are we ever likely to see an opposition government agree with anything in a spending review? Is it too much to ask that there’s one or two issues both parties can agree on?
Seems we’re living in a fantasy world where we hope everything will be okay – and so is George Osborne.
Angharad is a former radio journalist balancing a career in PR with an insatiable writing habit that spans more topics than she can count on her smaller-than-average hands. She's passionate about the media, women's rights and politics with a love of travel, culture, entertainment and all things lifestyle on the side. Interests include prolific online shopping (bit of a reputation in the office), musicals, dinosaurs (be honest, they're awesome) and tweeting anything and everything from @Welsh_PR