The coalition’s changes have cost the average family more than £1,000 a year. Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

IFS report dispels Osborne’s myth that we’re “all in it together”

Middle to higher income households, according to a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, have actually escaped “remarkably unscathed” from the coalition’s austerity drive.

Low-income families with children have bore the brunt of the coalition’s austerity drive, according to a report this morning by an independent economic think-tank.

The report, by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), suggests that the coalition’s tax and benefit changes have cost the average family more than £1,000 a year. It also adds that the richest tenth have lost out significantly in cash terms, though not as a percentage of income.

Interestingly, it can be taken from the report that Osborne’s mantra of we’re “all in it together” is little more than a myth: middle to higher income households have actually escaped “remarkably unscathed” from the coalition’s austerity measures, according to the IFS. And those in the same wage bracket, without children, have been left better off as a result of the coalition’s tax and benefit changes. But for middle and higher income families with children, the loss of tax credits and child benefit “has more than offset the effect of income tax cuts”.

Pensioners were relatively unaffected, on average, as the hike in VAT largely offset their gains from the “triple lock” on the state pension.

Cathy Jamieson, Labour’s shadow treasury minister, said today that the report shows that tax and benefit changes under the coalition have left households £1,127 a year worse off on average. Jamieson said: “Families with children have been hit hardest of all by David Cameron’s choices – a clear betrayal of his promise to lead the most family-friendly government ever.

“For all the government’s claims, this report shows that they have raised tax by over £13.5bn a year. And for millions of working people the rise in VAT and cuts to things like tax credits have more than offset changes to the personal allowance.

“It is clear working people can’t afford five more years of this government.”

Responding to the IFS briefing note a spokesperson for HM Treasury said:

[The report] confirms that the richest have lost the most from the Government’s changes to taxes and welfare. Treasury analysis has shown that throughout the parliament that the richest 10 per cent of households have made the largest contribution to reducing the deficit. The Treasury presents the most complete, rigorous and detailed record of the impact of this government's policies on households. At Autumn Statement this confirmed that the richest 20 per cent of households will contribute more to reducing the deficit than the remaining 80 per cent put together.”

But no mention from the Treasury of those low-income families mentioned in the IFS report. While the government claims the richest have made “the largest contribution” in reducing the deficit, the poorest have actually lost the greatest percentage of their income. The coalition’s sustained attack on the most vulnerable people in society through its relentless austerity drive has left the poorest families on the verge of destitution - but, according to the Treasury, the “richest have lost the most”. 

James Browne, a senior research economist at IFS and co-author of the report said: “Whichever way you cut it, low-income households with children and the very richest households have lost out significantly from the changes as a percentage of their incomes.”

“Increases in the tax-free personal allowance have played an important role in protecting middle-income, working-age households meaning that those without children have actually gained overall.”

Ashley Cowburn writes about politics and is the winner of the Anthony Howard Award 2014. He tweets @ashcowburn

 

 

Getty
Show Hide image

Four times Owen Smith has made sexist comments

The Labour MP for Pontypridd and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership rival has been accused of misogynist remarks. Again.

2016

Wanting to “smash” Theresa May “back on her heels”

During a speech at a campaign event, Owen Smith blithely deployed some aggressive imagery about attacking the new Prime Minister. In doing so, he included the tired sexist trope beloved of the right wing press about Theresa May’s shoes – her “kitten heels” have long been a fascination of certain tabloids:

“I’ll be honest with you, it pained me that we didn’t have the strength and the power and the vitality to smash her back on her heels and argue that these our values, these are our people, this is our language that they are seeking to steal.”

When called out on his comments by Sky’s Sophy Ridge, Smith doubled down:

“They love a bit of rhetoric, don’t they? We need a bit more robust rhetoric in our politics, I’m very much in favour of that. You’ll be getting that from me, and I absolutely stand by those comments. It’s rhetoric, of course. I don’t literally want to smash Theresa May back, just to be clear. I’m not advocating violence in any way, shape or form.”

Your mole dug around to see whether this is a common phrase, but all it could find was “set back on one’s heels”, which simply means to be shocked by something. Nothing to do with “smashing”, and anyway, Smith, or somebody on his team, should be aware that invoking May’s “heels” is lazy sexism at best, and calling on your party to “smash” a woman (particularly when you’ve been in trouble for comments about violence against women before – see below) is more than casual misogyny.

Arguing that misogyny in Labour didn’t exist before Jeremy Corbyn

Smith recently told BBC News that the party’s nastier side only appeared nine months ago:

“I think Jeremy should take a little more responsibility for what’s going on in the Labour party. After all, we didn’t have this sort of abuse and intolerance, misogyny, antisemitism in the Labour party before Jeremy Corbyn became the leader.”

Luckily for Smith, he had never experienced misogyny in his party until the moment it became politically useful to him… Or perhaps, not being the prime target, he simply wasn’t paying enough attention before then?

2015

Telling Leanne Wood she was only invited on TV because of her “gender”

Before a general election TV debate for ITV Wales last year, Smith was caught on camera telling the Plaid Cymru leader that she only appeared on Question Time because she is a woman:

Wood: “Have you ever done Question Time, Owen?”

Smith: “Nope, they keep putting you on instead.”

Wood: “I think with party balance there’d be other people they’d be putting on instead of you, wouldn’t they, rather than me?”

Smith: “I think it helps. I think your gender helps as well.”

Wood: “Yeah.”

2010

Comparing the Lib Dems’ experience of coalition to domestic violence

In a tasteless analogy, Smith wrote this for WalesHome in the first year of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition:

“The Lib Dem dowry of a maybe-referendum on AV [the alternative vote system] will seem neither adequate reward nor sufficient defence when the Tories confess their taste for domestic violence on our schools, hospitals and welfare provision.

“Surely, the Liberals will file for divorce as soon as the bruises start to show through the make-up?”

But never fear! He did eventually issue a non-apology for his offensive comments, with the classic use of “if”:

“I apologise if anyone has been offended by the metaphorical reference in this article, which I will now be editing. The reference was in a phrase describing today's Tory and Liberal cuts to domestic spending on schools and welfare as metaphorical ‘domestic violence’.”

***

A one-off sexist gaffe is bad enough in a wannabe future Labour leader. But your mole sniffs a worrying pattern in this list that suggests Smith doesn’t have a huge amount of respect for women, when it comes to political rhetoric at least. And it won’t do him any electoral favours either – it makes his condemnation of Corbynite nastiness ring rather hollow.

I'm a mole, innit.