WE are in the midst of conference season. Labour’s conference was a riot from start to finish, and the Tories not much better. Labour tried in vain to find a stance on Brexit, and Boris Johnson tried in vain to change the Tory stance on Brexit. Neither were successful.

After dancing on to the stage, the Prime Minister announced during her speech to the Tories in Birmingham that the end was approaching for her government’s idealistically driven austerity agenda.

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Referring to the financial crash of 2008 she said: “People need to know that the austerity it led to is over.”

Ever since David Cameron (then prime minister, propped up by the Liberal Democrats) announced that everybody was going to have to tighten their belts for the overall good of the country in 2010, funding for public services has been relentlessly slashed, wages have been squeezed to breaking point, and the most vulnerable in society have seen the little income they have cut time and time again.

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From the abhorrent bedroom tax, through to the 1% public sector pay cap, the poorest in society have suffered nearly a decade of paying dearly for the mistakes of the richest.

Austerity has never worked as promised or as planned. While the Tories said everyone would be sharing the burden, they actually slashed taxes for the richest, and while we were supposed to see the national debt drop consistently, over recent years it has actually been skyrocketing; the ONS announced in March this year that it had reached £1.7 trillion. The belt tightening was never for the rich. Austerity is a failed programme. The promises of austerity have never been realised and 2018 food bank usage continues to grow and grow.

So, if austerity is truly ending surely that would be something to celebrate? Definitely. However, to claim that austerity will end next year is completely misleading. Some austerity policies are still rolling out and the impact of them will be felt well beyond 2019.

Universal Credit is the biggest one. The reform that rolls six different benefits into one single monthly payment has been beset by problems since its inception and at every single stage of its rollout.

New claimants have to wait five weeks before they receive a payment. This is down from a six-week wait that was in place originally but anyone who has been left for more than a month without any income is going to struggle significantly.

Countless charities and organisations pleaded with the government to change this part of the policy and put the rollout on hold until this was looked at again. Through the amazing work these organisations do, they had seen first-hand that implementing Universal Credit led to huge surges in the number of people trapped in rent arrears and going to food banks. People were left in a spiralling cycle of ever-increasing debt that they have no way of escaping.

The government decided to ignore these recommendations and instead stormed ahead with an accelerated rollout (not dissimilar to what it did to women born in the 1950s when it came to getting access to their pensions) which won’t be complete until the end of this year.

This rollout only affects new claimants, however. They don’t expect the full transfer of existing claimants to be complete until sometime in 2023. It is difficult to understand how the Prime Minister can claim that austerity is ending, when one of the single biggest austerity policies will still be hitting people for another four years.

Most will remember when Theresa May delivered her first speech as Prime Minister. From outside Downing Street she promised to help those who are “just about managing”. Every action her Government has taken since then has been in direct contradiction to that promise. For that reason, and many more, I find myself struggling to believe that there is any real chance of austerity policies ending.

It seems far more likely that austerity will continue, but the Tories will just stop calling it that. A bit like how they started calling £7.83 the living wage, when the Living Wage Foundation tells us that £8.75 is what a real living wage should be.

The Tories have shown time and time again that they cannot be trusted to look out for the best interests of people in Scotland. Where investment is needed, they cut budgets. It is their go-to move in the face of economic difficulty.

And given the huge economic difficulty facing this country due to a Brexit we didn’t vote for, it is very difficult to believe that they are going to change any time soon.