The highly regarded Institute of Fiscal Studies has challenged the Government assertion that the budget was both progressive but “firm but fair”.
The Government has insisted that the poorest section of the community including large sections of the Asian, African and Caribbean communities would be protected from huge budget spending reductions.
With Black communities suffering acutely high levels of unemployment and child poverty there is a real fear that the current budget will simply aggravate an already acute situation in many inner cities. Poverty levels among Asian’s is at 60% whilst for Black communities its 49% and for White Britons the poverty level is 20%. The Black Manifesto called upon Government to ensure economic inclusion and that the poorest communities in the UK do not bear a disproportionate impact on British Black communities.
The IFS has assessed that poor families will be much worse off once planned welfare cuts and reforms to child tax credit begin to bite.
Robert Chote Director of the IFS said:
“”Osborne and Clegg have been keen to describe yesterday’s measures as progressive in the sense that the rich will feel more pain than the poor. That is a debatable claim. The budget looks less progressive – indeed somewhat regressive – when you take out the effect of measures that were inherited from the previous government, when you look further into the future than 2012-13, and when you include some other measures that the Treasury has chosen not to model.”
Equally it has been argued that treasury has also failed to take into account the impact of reduced Government spending by Whitehall departments and local authorities.
“Perhaps the most important omission in any distributional analysis of this sort is the impact of the looming cuts to public services, which are likely to hit poorer households significantly harder than richer households” concluded Chote.
Many groups, including OBV, will ask for Government assurances to undertake comprehensive race equality impact assessments in regards to the effects of these budgets cuts on already impoverished African and Asian communities. OBV’s Director Simon Woolley and Commissioner with responsibility for race, with The Equality and Human Rights Commission will be strongly pushing the EHRC to guide and hold Government departments to account in ensuring their compliance with the law.
Both poverty and unemployment levels of the black community, particularly Bangladeshi, Pakistani, African and Caribbean, grew consistently over the last 20 years. If we are to avoid this situation getting worse, much less turning fortunes around, then the Government needs think very carefully about how intends to mitigate the worst effects of budget cuts for communities who would find it difficult to sustain the magnified impact of losing more jobs and the loss of basic community support.