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Fiscal cuts: UK in for a period of protests, pain

world Updated: Oct 21, 2010 15:39 IST
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Millions of Britons, including people of Indian origin, were in a state of anxiety as the fine print of 'axe Wednesday' led to the realisation that the country was in for a prolonged period of protests and pain.

As Chancellor George Osborne unveiled the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) in the House of Commons, it became clear that all sections of society - including Queen Elizabeth - would be worse off in these times of recession and uncertainty.

Soon after he concluded his speech, protests began in London and elsewhere.

There are already fears of Britain witnessing France and Greece-style public protests as the public spending cuts begin to hit haemorrhage people's lives.

There was consensus that major cuts were required to balance the national account due to the burden of 156 billion pounds of national debt.

But not many anticipated the depth and scale of cuts set out by the David Cameron government on Wednesday.

Many Indian-origin people, however, welcomed the major cuts in the welfare budget.

Phiroze Mistry, a Bristol-based pensioner, said many people were misusing the generous welfare benefits, and Osborne's measures will help stop this and force people to work.

"Many people find it easy not to work, because the state looks after you. The culture of misusing state welfare benefits should have been curbed long ago, but now these people who lived off other people's taxes will be forced to work and earn their living," he said.

Several Indian origin academics are concerned at the major cuts in the teaching budget for universities.

While funding for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics has been protected, the future of departments teaching Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences is under threat.

A London-based Indian origin academic said, "Forget promotions, it will be great if we can just retain our jobs in these times. My subject is among those targeted for major funding cuts. I have started looking for job options elsewhere."

In Leicester, which is home to a large population of Indian origin, one business survey estimated that 58,000 private and public sector jobs will be lost.

The Leicester City Council has warned that it may have to axe up to 1,000 jobs.