So who are this week’s losers?
OVER the last 48 hours there’s been a lot of soul-searching and number crunching to try to establish who are the real losers after the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
The announcements in the House of Commons were a bit of a curate’s egg.
As I was listening to them, I felt things weren’t actually as bad as some of the apocalyptic statements we had heard in the run-up to the statement.
More money for schools is certainly welcome and improvements to the A11 and rail routes in the region will be of great benefit – although the decision to abandon the A14 improvement between Cambridge and Huntingdon is a real blow.
But after looking again at the decisions, it is clear that some people will be hurt – so who are the real losers?
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Of course you pays your money and you takes your choice. But the fact is that whatever the financial figures show it will be the poor and the vulnerable who come off worse in any spending cut. They always do!
Now I know there are figures showing that the wealthiest people in society will be losing the most as a result of this review.
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It is absolutely right that they should – but can you really say that will make them the hardest hit?
Someone on �100,000 a year who loses �5,000 a year is losing more than someone on �15,000 a year losing �500 both in absolute and relative terms.
But is the wealthy person really suffering as much? Does the fact that the wealthy person has to delay buying a new Jaguar or cut out the ski holiday at Easter really amount to more hardship than that suffered by the poorer family who can’t afford to buy new shoes for the children or pay for the school day trip to Dunwich?
These kind of issues are impossible to quantify – and yet they are the basis on which all the arguments are starting to flow now.
I suspect that many coalition MPs know this – although there are clearly some ideologues on the Tory benches who do want to judge everything in monetary terms.
The MPs I know from this part of Suffolk are clearly aware of the social costs of decisions and are aware that �5 to one person is a coffee and a muffin at Costa while to someone else it is food for the family from Aldi.
To be fair to them, I think most of the cabinet understand that and will have taken no great pleasure in these cuts.
I hope that George Osborne is one of them. He was clearly in command of the House of Commons this week and even his opponents recognised he gave a good performance.
What we need to see from him and his colleagues over the next few months are genuine signs that they felt forced into these changes for the good of the country and its future prosperity – that they were not driven by an ideological desire to roll back the work of the state for its own sake.