We’ve all enjoyed the April Fools’ jokes about George Osborne. But he’s about to wipe that smile off your face.

osborne cuts april fools
Tracy Keeling

George Osborne featured in a few news stories on 1 April. The Guardian reported on Osborne’s latest glamorous job:

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And The Stage revealed that Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre announced the ex-chancellor will also take up the role of Artistic Director at the venue.

Both of these stories are, of course, a joke. And chucklesome April Fool’s Day high jinks they are too. But Osborne has also been the main protagonist in other stories today. Because this week many of his policy choices as Chancellor will be unleashed on the public.

And there’s nothing funny about the devastation these decisions will cause. At all.

Osborne’s toxic legacy

A grand total of five different benefit cuts will come into force this week. 18-21-year-olds will lose an automatic entitlement to housing benefit, with limited exemptions. It’s a change that charity Centrepoint says will put 9,000 young people at risk of homelessness.

Osborne’s cuts to Employment Support Allowance – a disability benefit – for claimants deemed fit for work-related activity will also begin. Anyone who falls into that category will only be eligible for £73.10 a week; the same as Jobseekers Allowance.

Furthermore, the government will bring in changes to support for families. The government will cap support at two children per family. And for new claimants of Universal Credit and Tax Credits, it will remove the family element and first child element of support entirely.

Bereavement benefits, meanwhile, also face the axe. Due to the changes, 75% of parents who lose their partners will receive less financial support than before, according to Political Scrapbook. And 91% will get support for a shorter period of time. In February, Labour’s Baroness Sherlock criticised the changes, saying:

[the reforms will] take £100m a year from bereaved families and give it to the exchequer…

Life is good for Georgie

So, “Georgie” may have so many lucrative jobs that he’s the first person many think of when deciding who to take an ‘April Fool’s jab at. He is, after all, the highest earning MP in the UK. But it’s really no laughing matter. Not when we see what this politician has done to those whose jobs don’t pay enough. Or to people whose lives cost more to live because of disabilities. Or to people without a job at all.

And the true costs to people of Osborne’s efforts in government are about to become painfully clear.

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