On Tuesday, November 24, students and members of the wider community came together to rally against the rumoured proposals in George Osborne’s Autumn Statement.
Members of the North East People’s Assembly met outside City Library and marched up Northumberland Street to the Civic Centre, holding banners to express their support.
Over 400 people attended the march, many of whom were members of UNISON, one of the UK’s largest trade unions, or NUS, the National Union of Students.
UNISON represents the public sector workers in the UK.
Along with members of the union, flags were held on behalf of the Green Party and Newcastle Teacher’s Association.
Speeches were given by Newcastle and Northumbria university students, teachers and other supporters, all of whom called for George Osborne to reconsider cuts that were to be announced in his Autumn Statement which was released on Wednesday, November 25.
Supporters argued that cuts would negatively affect education, health and public services.
In a U-turn, Osborne announced that proposals to cut tax credits had been rejected in the House of Lords and that they would be gradually phased out over the next three years.
The statement also announced the handing over of more powers to regional governments as part of devolution plans.
This supports Osborne’s previous emphasis on the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ that centralises on North West England.
2nd year Business and Politics student Robert said: “Young people are affected the most.
“There are so many students here today.
“Financially, young people have been hit the strongest.
“There have been cuts to MA funding, tuition fees, and there are other services that councils are being forced to cut.
“Youth services in Gateshead have been cut by two-thirds.
“These are all essential services that prevent young people from going into more costly services.
Robert added: “For example, youth services can prevent issues with mental health, but they are just non-existent now.”
The NHS will make efficiency savings of £22bn and cut 25% from its Whitehall budget.
Another participant of the rally, Mr Jay Hall said: “The reason we’re doing taking part in this march tonight is because the government is setting out a course of austerity that aims to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich.
“We’ve already seen an increasing gap between the rich and poor and they want to make it even worse.
“These cuts will mean more cuts and increased unemployment.”
There was an atmosphere of both fear and anger amongst the crowd at the rally, and many spoke of their anxiety around the future of their children and their families if cuts keep being made.
Speakers focused mainly on the cuts to education, both for young children and adults. They expressed anger about cuts to the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) and cuts to the Open University funding.
Many people also discussed the cuts to student maintenance grants that were announced in the Summer Budget in July this year.
Ultimately, Osborne announced £12billion worth of cuts to the welfare budget.