Falling incomes caused by Osborne Budgets, not migrants

By Bernadette Meaden
October 5, 2016

In her speech to the Conservative Conference,Theresa May claimed that she is on the side of those who are struggling, the working class people whose wages don’t cover their outgoings, and have seen their living standards fall in recent years.  If true, this would be very welcome.

But whilst acknowledging this fall in working class living standards, Mrs May did not place the blame on decisions made by governments in which she was a prominent figure, but chose instead a very easy target – immigrants. She said: “.. if you’re one of those people who lost their job, who stayed in work but on reduced hours, took a pay cut as household bills rocketed, or – and I know a lot of people don’t like to admit this – someone who finds themselves out of work or on lower wages because of low-skilled immigration, life simply doesn’t seem fair.”

Life is not fair for low-paid people whose incomes have fallen. But their incomes have been hit not by immigration, but by deliberate government measures which redistributed wealth from the poor to the rich.

Mrs May chose to scapegoate immigrants to distract from all the decisions made in the last six years that have hit those on low incomes hardest. Year after year since 2010, the distributional analysis of Budget measures showed that George Osborne was taking from the poor to give to the rich. The truth became so inconvenient that this year Mr. Osborne scrapped the analysis.

Fortunately  the IFS stepped into the breach and did their own analysis of the 2016 Budget, which showed that, purely because of Budget measures,  ‘many households in the bottom 20 per cent of earners would end up losing 12 per cent of their income by 2019, while households in the top half of the income scale would not lose anything.’

Mrs May said she would use the power of the state to make Britain fairer. Unless she undoes many of the measures taken by George Osborne and virtually everything done by Iain Duncan Smith (with a Great Repeal Bill perhaps?) the people on low incomes whom she claims to care about will continue to get poorer for at least the next three years. And it will have nothing to do with immigration, and everything to do with deliberate decisions taken by the Conservative government.

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 © Bernadette Meaden has written about political, religious and social issues for some years, and is strongly influenced by Christian Socialism, liberation theology and the Catholic Worker movement. She is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor. You can follow her on Twitter: @BernaMeaden

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