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AltAusterity Digest #102 June 13-19, 2019

This week in Austerity News:

Jun 21, 2019

For Maclean’s, Sarmishta Subramanian discusses the relationship between education cuts, deepening inequality and economic and political stability. As funding per pupil is set to be cut in both Ontario and Alberta, there are likely to be negative long-term consequences for social mobility and equality of opportunity. With certain classes being cut, non-teaching staff being laid-off and class sizes set to rise, those who can afford to pay tutors, to take unpaid internships, or to enroll their children in extracirricular activities that were formerly covered by the public system, will reasonably be expected to do so. This will confer larger advantages on the children of the wealthy and disadvantage large segments of the middle-income and low-income population. As inequality has been routinely proven to have a negative effect on social mobility, political stability and economic growth, education cuts are likely to have effects far beyond the deficit budgetary line.

In direct relation to the above story, the IMF has released a paper titled A Strategy for IMF Engagement on Social Spending. The IMF has acknowledged the importance of social spending as a key policy lever for mitigating some of the effects of inequality and addressing emerging challenges from demographic shifts, technological developments, and climate change. The IMF report finds that “social spending plays an essential role in protecting vulnerable groups, supporting social and political stability, addressing inequalities of both income and opportunity, smoothing consumption over the life cycle, and stabilizing demand in the face of economic shocks.” Part of the IMF’s strategy notes the importance of technical assistance to help create fiscal space – through both increased domestic revenues and “spending efficiency.”

A damning UN’s Special Rapporteur on racism and human rights has found that austerity in the UK has hit ethnic minorities hardest, has exacerbated discrimination in Britain, and has further entrenched racial inequality. According to the report, austerity measures will result in a 5% loss in income for black households. This will be double the loss suffered by white households. Cash losses as a result of tax, welfare and wage reforms for black households will average about 1,600 pounds, while the figure for white households is 950 pounds. Britain in trending in the same direction as the U.S. in terms of declining life expectancy in part due to stagnant wages for those with less education and cuts to the National Health System. These factors are also likely to have racial implications.

For The Guardian, Yvonne Roberts reviews Crippled: Austerity and the Demonisation of Disabled People, by Frances Ryan. In the book, Ryan argues that austerity has been a political choice and one that has disproportionated punished equity seeking groups. This has been especially true for disabled persons in the UK. The Centre for Welfare Reform found in 2013 that disabled people suffered nine times the average burden of austerity cuts and that this figure increased to 19 time for the most severely disabled. Out of 14 million disabled British citizens, 4 million live below the poverty line. Again, the UN has condemned what it found to be state-level violations of the human rights of disabled people. In its 2017 inquiry, it concluded that the politics of austerity had been a “human catastrophe” for persons with disabilities.

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation.