Austerity and Inequality. Exploring the Impact of Cuts in the UK by Gender and Age

Jay Ginn


Across Europe and North America, governments responded to the financial crisis of 2007-8 by taking on the debt of banks and insurance companies. Subsequent austerity programmes to reduce that debt have cut the living standards of all but the richest. Yet governments insist cuts are necessary and that they are fairly distributed. In this review of austerity policies in the UK, these claims are challenged, first by assessing the impact on key population groups of cuts in welfare spending and second by showing how specific reforms, including those planned before the financial crash, are likely to affect current and future pensioners, especially women and those living on low incomes. Finally, I review the effectiveness of austerity policies in tackling the deficit, outlining alternative policies that have been put forward by critics. I conclude that the cuts are not only unfair, exacerbating the social division between the very wealthy and the rest of society but are also counterproductive to the aim of restoring economic activity and reducing the deficit.


austerity, age, pensions, welfare state, banking.

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