The Human Story Behind the UK Budget: A Decade of Tory Economic Mismanagement

The UK budget, says Simon Pearson, reflects a decade of Tory economic mismanagement resulting in a pay cut economy, growing wealth inequality, and declining quality of life for ordinary people, which can be addressed by boosting incomes, taxing the wealthy, and investing in a green economy.


The Tories economic mismanagement over the past twelve years has resulted in a pay cut economy where people’s incomes fail to keep up with inflation. Families struggle to make ends meet, high streets are in decline, and hospitals are beyond breaking point. Working people have resorted to a series of strikes as the only means to align their wages with soaring inflation. In short, the UK is facing an economic crisis with a human cost, managed by a political party devoid of compassion or empathy, impervious to the human cost of their actions.

The Consequences of a Lost Decade

This government’s austerity policies, underfunding of public services, and other critical sectors have resulted in a lost decade of economic mismanagement. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that 90% of those on Universal Credit are unable to afford life’s essentials. The government must acknowledge that even those on Universal Credit deserve to live with dignity and afford life’s basic necessities – we are not talking about luxury items, but rather the fundamental elements that make life bearable. The Tories failure to invest in public services like hospitals, schools, and transportation has led to a decline in the quality of life for ordinary people. The real pay of workers is falling steeply, and the gap between the richest 10% and the poorest 40% in UK wealth distribution is the second-highest in the OECD.

The Interconnectedness of the Economy

This government’s failure to provide support to ordinary citizens like you and me has triggered a chain reaction that has had dire consequences for small businesses and the overall economy. As millions struggle to make ends meet, there is less money circulating in the economy, resulting in fewer jobs and weaker economic growth. This has further hurt small businesses, which rely on consumer spending to stay afloat. In short, this government’s neglect of its citizens has had disastrous effects on the economy and society at large. When millions of people can’t pay for basic needs, less money flows through the economy. This means that there are fewer jobs and a weaker economic future. Also, this government’s persistent underfunding of public services like health care, education, and social services has made it hard for many people to get the care they need. Because of this, people have to wait a long time for important surgeries and treatments, which causes unnecessary pain, suffering, and even death. Meanwhile, those who rely on government support have seen their quality of life plummet as they struggle to access basic necessities like housing and food, leading to higher levels of poverty, inequality, and social exclusion. These issues have only served to deepen the already entrenched social and economic inequalities that divide our society along lines of class, race, and gender. In present-day Britain, life under the Tories presents a harsh and desolate reality for far too many.

The UK’s Growing Wealth Inequality

While most people’s incomes lag inflation, the UK’s billionaires have increased by 20% since the pandemic began. The UK is one of the most unequal countries in the rich world, and the pay cut economy affects nurses, firefighters, and teachers, among others. Public sector pay has been held down for 12 years, leading to a recruitment and retention crisis in public services and a race to the bottom on public sector wages. This government’s failure to tax the wealthy and invest in public services has resulted in a society where ordinary people struggle to make ends meet while the rich get richer!

How this Government Can Boost Incomes and Increase Stability

This government claims that supporting people more will cause inflation, but this is false. The Tories could be doing much more to boost people’s incomes and give them the stability they need to make plans. This includes paying public sector workers enough to live a decent life and lifting those on social security to enable them to afford life’s essentials. The government’s failure to support ordinary people and invest in public services is not only a moral failure but an economic one. If the government were to compensate nurses and teachers with a living wage, enabling them to maintain a basic standard of living, the benefits would extend beyond the workers themselves. A boost to the economy would be imminent, a result of the increased buying power and enhanced livelihoods of these essential workers.

Taxing the Wealthy to Fund Public Services

To fund this, the government MUST tax wealth. An annual 1-2 percent tax on the wealth of people with more than £10 million in assets could raise up to £23 billion. Research from the LSE and Warwick shows that equalising Capital Gains Tax rates with income tax rates would target overwhelmingly the richest and raise £15.6bn, abolishing non-dom status would raise £3.6bn; and extending National Insurance to investment income would raise £9.6bn. Increasing the existing surcharge on bank profits from 3% to 35% in line with the energy profits levy would raise £67bn over the next five years. The public supports wealth taxes, and there is a strong case for taxing the wealthiest in society to fund public services and support ordinary people. It is time for the government to prioritise policies that lift people out of hardship and invest in the country’s future.

Building a Better Future for All

To truly build an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few, we must invest in a green economy that supports growth in all regions. This government should allocate the majority of its funds to bolster public services, aid workers, and implement progressive taxation policies that target the wealthiest. A balanced economy, one that is truly sustainable for generations to come, this is possible, and can be achieved through strategic investments in infrastructure, development of green energy, and support for small businesses.

These are the foundational steps necessary to create a better future for all.

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I put this article together using one of the messaging guides by NEON which also produce a useful two week forward events planner, and regular messaging guides for activists.

Simon Pearson is on the Editorial Board of the Anti*Capitalist Resistance and is a Midlands-based political activist.

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