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AltAusterity Digest #112 September 19-25, 2019

This week in Austerity News:

Sep 27, 2019

The cost of living with a disability has grown substantially in the UK. According to Scope, a UK disability charity, living with a disability comes with an additional £583 a month price tag. The increasing costs for people with disabilities has largely been driven by austerity policies targeting the welfare system. According to statistics from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the transition to a new system of payments known as the Personal Independence Payment has meant that around 500,000 people would no longer qualify for disability benefits. The new system also requires claimants go through official assessments to have their needs determined. This has often resulted in claimants’ entitlements being “downgraded.” Last year a 2018 UN report determined that austerity in the UK “unnecessarily inflicted great misery … on people with disabilities who are already marginalized.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and eleven other members of Congress have sent a letter to the Puerto Rican Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) calling on them to reverse austerity policies. The FOMB (colloquially known as ‘the junta’) has for three years been imposing deep austerity cuts in Puerto Rico in the areas of health care, public education, labour protections and public-sector pensions. The letter of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez requires that by October 7th, the FOMB offer explanations for how the massive cuts are going to achieve economic growth. Among other transparency and accountability requests around the growing fiscal surplus, conflict of interest improprieties, and the prioritization of creditors over citizens. The letter concludes by demanding that the FOMB reverse the austerity measures and heed Puerto Rican calls for democratic governance.

India’s finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, has lowered the base corporate tax rate from 30% to 22% in an effort to stimulate the economy. Manufacturing firms will see their rate lowered from 25% to 15%. The corporate tax losses at estimated to be between $15bn and $20bn. As India’s growth rate sits at a 6-year low, the government has taken several measures, including the central bank cutting rates four times, in attempt to boost domestic consumption. In response to the announced tax changes, India’s stock market Sensex saw its strongest two day rise in a decade, jumping 8.3%.

The Australian Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) has warned that the Coalition government’s income tax cuts will put the countries medium-term fiscal projections in jeopardy. The Coalition’s $158bn tax cut is expected to take full effect by 2024 and is structured to shift the tax burden onto low- to middle-income earners. Before Labour capitulated and decided to support the tax cuts in full, they had made the argument that global economic uncertainties made cutting a key revenue stream “irresponsible.” Last week the government reported $13.8bn in saved expenditures from this years’ budget, primarily due to revenues brought in by iron ore prices and through $4.6bn underspent on the National Disability Insurance System (NDIS).

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.