The banks have run the global economy into the ground. Bankers, encouraged by the government, gambled recklessly with our money, and they lost. Spectacularly. Remember 2008? In the UK, the government decided it had to step in with a bail-out because these banks were ‘too big to fail’. According to the Bank of England, the cost of this bail-out now exceeds £1trillion. The result is that all high street banks- from Barclays to RBS- owe their existence to public financing.
What did we get for our billions? A banking system that serves ordinary people rather than the super-rich? No. Regretful bankers who refuse to reward themselves with massive bonuses? No. How about increased financial regulation to ensure this crisis couldn’t happen again? No. The government has done nothing to stop it being business as usual for banks.
What’s worse, the money that was given to the bankers is the money now being taken from the poorest in society, guaranteeing a rise in poverty, debt and inequality. Nearly £7 billion will be paid out in bank bonuses this year. This sum is more than the first wave of public spending cuts. We are not all in this together because it’s us who will pay if education, health, housing, libraries, woodland and much, much more, disappears from our lives.
Who’s telling us we must make these cuts? A government led by a cabinet of millionaires, in bed with the bankers, which is now pulling off an audacious con-trick in front of our eyes.
This is how their story goes. The crisis was caused by a bloated public sector. We binged away all our money on luxuries like healthcare and free education and council services, care for the elderly, for people with disabilities, school sports and free school meals for children living in poverty. Now the country is bankrupt and we must repent, detox, cut back. We have to relinquish our welfare state to appease the circling money men. Welcome to the Age of Austerity but don’t worry because we are all in this together.
We say – don’t believe their lies. This is their crisis, but there is no austerity for the bankers.
David Cameron says he wants ordinary volunteers to step up and do the government’s job for them. We’re happy to oblige. Just as UK Uncut’s Big Society Revenue and Customs has been making the tax dodgers pay, the Big Society Bail-In will set about taking back the banks and transforming them to meet people’s real needs.
The plan is to stage Bail-Ins across the UK – bringing the Big Society into the banks. Every high street in every town across the country is home to branches of the big banks. Teams of UK Uncut volunteers will be entering the banks, occupying them and transforming them into something that people need that will be damaged by the cuts.
This isn't about shutting the banks down, but opening them up. Libraries are being closed, so how about staging a read-in? The housing benefit cap means people are losing their homes, so what about a sleep-in? Theatres are being shut, so how about staging a play in your local bank? Health provisions are being cut, so what about setting up a walk-in clinic? University funding is being savaged so how about holding a lecture series? The possibilities are endless. It’s up to you to come up with a creative idea, get some people together, transform your local bank and tell the public why you’re there.
We will not pay for their crisis. See you on the high streets.