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Taking a stand on austerity

By John Lowry

Published 21/04/2015

John Lowry believes plans to reduce corporation tax should be abandoned immediately
John Lowry believes plans to reduce corporation tax should be abandoned immediately

This election is an opportunity to take a stand against austerity, cuts and reduced public services. As the detail of the cuts in public expenditure being imposed by the Stormont Executive continues to unfold, the quality of life for many people in Northern Ireland continues to decline.

It is equally clear that austerity measures will impede our ability to grow the economy in new technologies; for example, by virtue of cuts to university funding.

The truth is that the most damaging cuts here are the direct responsibility of the five local parties which campaigned - along with the business community - for a reduction in corporation tax, something which even the Tories did not want.

To offset the cost of lowering corporation tax for big business, Sinn Fein, the DUP, SDLP, Alliance Party and the Ulster Unionists are taking 20,000 jobs out of the public sector and are significantly reducing public spending in education, public transport, the community and voluntary sector and the arts. They will make up the shortfall by selling off public assets, like the Belfast Harbour Estate.

That is why we have cuts and daily announcements of a further erosion of public services.

These are not Tory cuts; they are the price the people of Northern Ireland are paying for lowering corporation tax. Welfare reform, too, was demanded and delivered to Cameron and Osborne.

It is worth remembering that an increasing number of people on benefits include the working poor: people who are in low paid, part-time work and who have to have their wages topped up by the state. In reality, private sector employers are having their wage bill subsidised from the social security budget.

Yet there is another way. Plans to reduce corporation tax should be abandoned immediately. Instead of borrowing £700m to fund redundancies, the Executive should use these borrowing powers to put construction workers to work, providing 20,000 new homes instead of 20,000 lost jobs.

A socialist programme of publicly funded investment, development and growth is the alternative to austerity and to the cuts imposed by the Stormont coalition.

John Lowry is the Workers' Party candidate in West Belfast

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