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Austerity Action Group – Marches On

Austerity Action Group (AAG) is a key vehicle in SWU and BASW’s ongoing campaign for a more socially just environment

Born out of the Boot Out Austerity Group, AAG is marching on, tackling the same crucial strands in society – poverty and inequality – that continue to negatively affect people who use social services.

Supporters are always welcome, and our latest activity saw us join the national demonstration ‘End Austerity Now’ by the People’s Assembly in Manchester on Sunday 29th September. At the protest, BASW's Honorary Treasurer Jon Dudley gave a speech: 

"Comrades, I bring greetings of support from the British Association of Social Workers and the Social Workers Union.

Two and a half years ago, myself and a group of our members marched the 100 miles from Birmingham to Liverpool to raise awareness of the impact of politically driven Austerity policies on some of the most vulnerable people in our society, and to share their stories. We marched under banners with a simple message: Boot Out Austerity.

Two and a half years on, things are so much worse. Many of the user run supportive services we visited on the march have closed through lack of funds.

In our day to day work social workers see the effect of austerity policies on vulnerable individuals. But social work is a profession rooted not only in compassion, but in human rights and a commitment to social justice. That is why we must campaign to Boot Out Austerity.

- We have seen the systematic undermining and underfunding of public services by successive governments

- The destruction of youth services

- The wholesale closure of Children's Centres across the land

- The calamitous introduction of Universal Credit

- The crazy tug of war between local authorities and the NHS to fund Continuing Health Care, which, without doubt, should be free for all

- People with disabilities who tell us that they are given the choice to work or die.

And all this against a backdrop of growing inequality and the iniquity of a government that thinks it acceptable to make benefit cuts to the poor whilst making tax cuts for the rich.

It's not OK. We must Boot Out Austerity.

The Social Workers Union met last week, right here in the fine city of Manchester, the birthplace of the Trade Union Congress, to debate some of these issues. One of our senior members , now in his 80s, could not hold back the tears of anger and shame at the damning report on our country from the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. He never imagined seeing such a savage indictment of political failure in this nation in his lifetime - a lifetime that has spanned the creation of the National Health Service and the welfare state, both now threatened with destruction.

We must challenge all our our elected representatives at local and national level. What are they doing to turn back the tide, to invest in public services, to combat inequality and to Boot Out Austerity?

And if we don't get a satisfactory answer, what do we do? We use our collective power and our votes to BOOT THEM OUT."

History

AAG believes austerity is a political choice, not a necessity, thus we will always challenge the types of policies that contribute to poverty.

The origins of AAG can be found in the Boot Out Austerity campaign, which highlighted the impact of austerity on families.

It saw 140 social workers and service users take part in a 100-mile walk from BASW’s head office in Birmingham to the 2017 AGM venue in Liverpool, marching against austerity measures.

The walk had significant impact and generated national and regional media interest, engaging with key government ministers and MPs. More on this can be found here.

Since then, BASW and SWU have launched a Campaign Action Pack to encourage anti-austerity activity locally, regionally and nationally across the UK.

The step-by-step guide outlines everything from how to organise public meetings, rallies and awareness-raising film nights to setting up petitions, lobbying and contacting the press. 

Another focus is lobbying against the harmful impact of Universal Credit, specifically the two-child cap.

For more information about AAG, it’s upcoming events and how to get involved please email carol.reid@swu-union.org.uk

End Austerity Now 2019 protest march

Further information