A Hackney football club that has given a new life to a small handful of people suffering from mental illness could close in May. Teaching support is being cut in Tower Hamlets. Services for the unemployed and nurseries are being cut in Lewisham and libraries are disappearing in Croydon. But all this is small change compared to the likely impact of housing benefit cuts on those struggling to cope on unemployment benefit or low wages. And it may pale into insignificance against the background of massive changes to our welfare state.
In the late 1940s, a country struggling to come to terms with the devastation of war, agreed to pool its resources in order to allow all its citizens free access to services that had formally only been enjoyed by the wealthy. For the first time working class people had equal access to health care and university education. All that is about to change. This government has already introduced the reforms that will start to privatise both health care and higher education. In the short term they will provide subsidies so that everyone will be able to pay but in the long term those subsidies will start to shrink.
We have only to look at housing to understand what could happen. In the 1980s, the last Tory Government privatised whole swathes of publicly owned housing. People were told that it was no longer necessary for them to live in council owned homes. Housing Benefit would allow everyone equal access to housing in the private sector. This year that promise will be broken. The homes that were built with our money for ordinary people to occupy, have risen in value and the government has given notice that it will no longer pay subsidies so that ordinary people can live in high value areas.
Now that same government is suggesting that we should trust them as they privatise the NHS and the universities but we have little reason to believe that they will continue to subsidise either health care or university education once the market place takes over and the prices start to rise.
All over the middle East the people are rising up against their governments and demanding that their voices be heard. We live in a democracy and we have the right to be heard. We should use that right.
Find out about how to join the march at the dedicated website www.marchforthealternative.org.uk.