Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 37, October 3, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Rishi Sunak Cancels Budget and Refuses to Deal with the People's Wellbeing

Chancellor Rishi Sunak on September 24 announced a deal to replace the furlough scheme. It was claimed that it will safeguard the interests of workers by allowing millions of workers to work part-time while keeping four-fifths of their earnings. At the same time, he declared that the "honest truth is that we can't save every job". In so saying, he is admitting that the government is abdicating responsibility for the fate of the economy, and demonstrating that the government's schemes are not designed to deal with the people's wellbeing and resolving the crisis. It is the antithesis of what a modern economy can and must be.

The Chancellor said that this programme would run for six months, starting in November, when the existing furlough scheme comes to an end. The "Jobs Support Scheme" was billed as the next stage of the government's economic plan, and replaced a planned Budget statement. In his announcement, Rishi Sunak also unveiled plans to extend loan repayments for businesses and delay ending a tax cut for the hospitality sector. The Chancellor said: "The government will directly support the wages of people in work, giving businesses who face depressed demand the option of keeping employees in a job on shorter hours, rather than making them redundant. The Jobs Support Scheme is built on three principles; first, it will support viable jobs to make sure that employees must work at least a third of their normal hours, and be paid for that work as normal by their employer. The government, together with employers, will then increase those people's wages, covering two thirds of the pay they have lost by reducing their working hours, and the employee will keep their job."

Even this has been forced on the government by the people's resistance to the anti-social offensive and the threat of mass redundancies. But behind the government's response lies the actual aim to preserve the pay-the-rich economy and benefit the power of the monopolies and oligarchs over the economy. These are the very forces who have been and are responsible for the crisis of the economy which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. It means that the preoccupation of the government is how to save the day for the global oligarchs and at the same time keep the working people from gaining control over the economic and political affairs which determine their lives and the direction of society and the economy. As Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, the Chancellor was right to warn the public that things were going to be tough.

The Chancellor's announcement has been made in the context of the tearing up of norms of political affairs as the state arrangements are being restructured to ensure what amounts to a public-private partnership between the government and the self-serving private interests of the imperialist oligarchs and multinationals. This has been seen in the restructuring of the civil service so as to give prominence to the dictate of those who promote "Global Britain" and "Britain First", which in effect means that Britain is open to plunder by the global oligarchs, as they maraud the world and engage in cut-throat competition to be the subject of handouts from the public treasury, vie for state contracts and for whom the interests of working people count for nothing. This is called ensuring "Britain's place in the world". This restructuring itself extends to law-making, to the justice system, to international agreements, as well as to who benefits from an economy in crisis.

In other words, the Chancellor's announcement had nothing to do with the necessity of investing in social programmes and putting investments into an economy which favours the working people. An economy in which new value produced by working people is invested in public enterprises and production for society's needs is what is required. However, the direction embraced by the government and its Chancellor steadfastly negates this requirement.

The point is that in opposition to the parasitism of the imperialist rich, it is the working class and people themselves who can activate the human factor and harness for society's benefit the immense power and capacity of the modern productive forces. It is not simply that the Chancellor is opting for too little, too late. It is a question of who has the people's wellbeing at heart, and who has the power to unlock the productive power of the working people themselves. What is required is that power be vested in working people themselves to organise the state so that a government is constituted which meets its social responsibilities to the people.


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