On a slope to NHS user charges

Submitted by AWL on 2 July, 2013 - 4:34

Once again, it's more money for the banks, and more people to the food banks. From 2015, if you lose your job, it will be at least seven days until you can get JSA.

That will not bother you if you are someone like George Entwhistle, who got an ÂŁ800,000 pay-off when he resigned after just 54 days as director-general of the BBC. If you are low-paid, or you are on a zero-hours contract and got no pay at all last week, it will.

In his spending review on 26 June, George Osborne also tightened the squeeze on lone parents and vowed to abolish public service workers' automatic or semi-automatic annual "increments" of pay. He was generous only in one direction, giving 3.4% more money to the spooks.

The problem with Osborne's plans is not just Osborne's plans. They are due to come in from April 2015. With a reasonable effort by the labour movement, Osborne should be voted out soon after that.

The problem is that the Labour leaders have vowed to stick with Osborne's spending limits for 2015-6 at least, and his plan to keep a "cap" on welfare spending however much unemployment and low pay increase welfare need.

It is also that Osborne has set plans for a trajectory of ever-increasing cuts after 2016, and the Labour leaders have not clearly challenged that.

Unless the government does something like scrap Trident, ever-increasing cuts after 2016 mean chopping the provision for health and schools which at present is supposed to be protected.

The Financial Times reports that among experts it is "close to becoming orthodoxy that a universal free NHS may be unsustainable".

Unless we want the next Labour administration to be the government which finally demolishes the cracked and chipped cornerstone of the 1948 NHS - health care free at the point of need - the unions must move now to call Balls and Miliband to order.

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