10 years of austerity: the impact on low-income households and women

Issue 154 (Summer 2016)

Tax changes and cuts to public spending and social security have been key to the deficit-reduction strategy implemented by the coalition government between 2010 and 2015 and continued by the Conservative government elected in May 2015.

Indeed, the Conservative government has vowed to reach a structural surplus in the public finances by 2020, with an austerity programme made up of 89 per cent public spending cuts and 11 per cent net tax rises.

Pursuing a fiscal surplus is economically controversial and it is not clear that it is necessary for a healthy, sustainable economy.

But even within a framework of reducing public deficit, the choice of achieving this through public spending cuts as opposed to tax rises has also proved controversial because of its disproportionate impact on more vulnerable groups.

Despite Chancellor Osborne having trumpeted in June 2010 that the austerity plan would see us ‘all in it together’, Jerome De Henau and Howard Reed report on the latest analysis to question this claim.

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