An unbalanced budget

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Commenting on the 22 June 2010 UK emergency budget, Simon Barrow, co-director of the religion and society thinktank Ekklesia, said:

"A budget is not simply a set of statistics, it is a moral document with tangible impact on people's lives. The government has to address significant deficit and borrowing problems, but in policy terms it is disingenuous to claim that its specific decisions on how to allocate the pain, and its fundamental choice to do so through public spending cuts that hit the unemployed, those in housing need, low income families, the disabled, poor children and other vulnerable groups, is somehow being being 'forced' upon it.

"The government is saying that 'all must suffer equally'. But Christians and others who recognise that social justice, environmental sustainability and the needs of the most vulnerable are the true measure of the morality and efficacy in public decision-making will say that no-one should suffer. Not the poorer, because they should be supported; and not the richer, because they are prosperous anyway. The idea that all are equal confuses equality with sameness. In reality, however, all are not equal and all are not the same. The Chancellor has not recognised this.

"The wider general retreat of all the mainstream political parties from notions of equalisation, sharing and redistribution of resources, means that systemic injustice is going unaddressed. In this sense, the Coalition government is a continuation, as well as in some respects a deepening and worsening, of what has gone before."

"There are always alternatives: the issue is what choices are being made, by whom and for (or against) whom. The government could have addressed the problems we face through different tax options, through cutting the wasteful and unnecessary Trident replacement, and through a wholesale restructuring of economic priorities and investment towards the creation of investment, employment and selective growth towards a zero-carbon settlement - along lines outlined in detail by the New Economics Foundation, the Centre for Alternative Technology, and others - including ourselves - who advocate a 'Green New Deal'. That the Chancellor did not do so is a matter of political choice, not economic necessity."