Let’s consign a decade of Tory austerity to the dustbin of history

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This week marks a decade since the financial crisis of 2008, where UK taxpayers were forced to pay billions to bail out the banks – after their reckless ­profiteering left the ­financial system on the verge of collapse. Ten years might have gone by but millions of families across the UK are still being made to pay a heavy price as a result of Tory and Labour austerity cuts.

Back in 2009, after presiding over the crash, the Labour Government’s response was to impose “tougher and deeper” cuts to public spending than those under Margaret Thatcher – a ­decision which set in motion years of austerity that has held back economic growth and left the country poorer.

While Labour laid the foundations of austerity, the Tories have used the crash as an excuse to pursue the deep right-wing ideological cuts they have always wanted to make – attacking the welfare state, cutting back public services and advocating privatisation at every turn.

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It is clearer than ever that austerity has failed dismally. UK economic growth is lagging behind other countries, the UK’s national debt is soaring, public services in England are at crisis point and families are feeling the pain of squeezed incomes and rising living costs.

Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has revealed that under the Tories real wages have been slashed – with average wages now £800 a year lower than they were a decade ago.

With incomes falling and living costs rising, it is no surprise that the majority of families are struggling to get by. After years of austerity, the UK is now is one of the most unequal countries in the EU and poverty and inequality are increasing.

The Tories have slashed billions from social security payments, cut support for the disabled and introduced abhorrent policies like the bedroom tax and rape clause, which have left families ­increasingly forced to rely on emergency aid to get by.

In Scotland, the SNP Government have done their best to protect against Tory austerity – despite having their budget cut by £2.6billion. Every year, they spend millions mitigating Tory cuts. But the only way to end austerity is in Westminster.

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The SNP have been the only major party to consistently oppose the cuts – and we are calling on the UK ­Government to use the Budget to finally admit failure and consign austerity to the dustbin where it belongs.

As the past decade has made clear, you cannot cut your way to prosperity. Instead of making more self-defeating cuts, the Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond must radically change course – delivering a programme of investment to boost incomes, protect public services, and drive economic growth.

As Scotland faces the prospect of being dragged off the Brexit cliff edge against our will, it is vital the Chancellor listens to his own warnings on the ­devastation that Tory and Labour hard Brexit plans would cause – if we are to avoid decades more self-inflicted harm to the economy.

Only by ending Tory austerity and preventing an extreme Brexit can we start to build a fairer, more equal and prosperous economy that works in the interests of the majority.

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Scottish National Party

Scottish National Party

The Scottish National Party is a social-democratic political party in Scotland.