Camden and Haringey residents take to the streets to protest at coalition’s cuts
CAMDEN and Haringey residents joined hundreds of people from across London in a demonstration against the Chancellor George Osborne’s plan to slash public spending with �81 bn of cuts.
Teachers, union members and Labour party activists took part in a protest last night from Lincoln’s Inn Fields to Downing Street, bringing traffic in central London to a standstill.
“They say cut back,” “We say fight back”; “David Cameron get out, we know what you’re about,” residents chanted as they waved banners.
Mohammed Uddin, 50, of the Regent’s Park Estate, said that he was demonstrating against the cuts because they would hit elderly people and low income families hardest.
Mr Uddin, who is unable to work because he has a bad back, said: “Pensioners and low-income families will all suffer because of these cuts. We shouldn’t be getting rid of the deficit by taking bread from the poor.”
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Announcing the �81bn cuts, Mr Osborne claimed it would restore “sanity to our public finances” and aid the country’s economic recovery.
Among the changes to the public sector spending package that Mr Osborne outlined in his speech in the House of Commons yesterday, were plans to raise the pension age for men and women to 66 from 2020 – six years earlier than planned.
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From April, local authorities will receive 7.1 per cent less from central government - totalling a 28 per cent cut over the next four years. There will also be a reform of incapacity benefits so that they are time-limited and an overhaul of housing benefits and tax credits.
Mr Osborne announced that 3.4 per cent would be shaved off the education budget - which was much less than expected - and a “pupil premiuim” would be used to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds; but there will also be a hike in tuition fees.
Andrew Baisley, chairman of Camden NUT explained why he took part in the demonstration.
“I’m really appalled by the comprehensive spending review,” Mr Baisley said.
“George Osborne claims that he’s protecting education with only a 3.4 per cent cut but in Camden we lost millions in the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) Programme. “There’s no guarantee that any of that will be clawed back.
“We’re expecting there to be a lot of redundancies by the end of the academic year and you cannot describe that as protecting education.
“The much-touted pupil premium will also not be available to inner city London boroughs such as Camden because the government thinks we already receive enough funding.”
Sally Gimson, 46, lives in Gospel Oak with her husband and three children. Mrs Gimson who took part in the protest, said: “I think these cuts are going to have a devastating effect on Camden and change the nature of the borough.
“The council is going to be cut by 30 per cent which means that a lot of the voluntary sector will suffer.
Our three children attend local schools and I’m worried about them. I’m also worried about tuition fees.
“We’re relatively well off but lots of people who aren’t probably won’t be able to get through this.”
Nash Ali, Leader of the Labour-run Camden Council, said that the review would have a devastating impact on services in Camden.
“It will probably take us about a month to work out the exact government settlement in Camden but we know we’re going to be worse off.
“Our residents are going to be affected by the changes to housing benefits and welfare. We’ve got 18,000 people who are the housing waiting list but with 74 per cent cuts in social housing there will almost be no new social housing built.
“The message we’re getting is that women and children are going to be particularly worse off.”