The recent UK Budget saw a nominally right wing Conservative government pledge more money for public services and introduce pay and universal credit increases for the lowest paid.
Following a huge increase in borrowing during the Pandemic and a recent increase in National Insurance contributions (basically a tax increase) this hardly seems like a government committed to a neoliberal agenda.
Maybe this is because neoliberalism just can’t respond to these current crises – the public sector (the NHS) has been so central in the ‘fight the Pandemic’ narrative that this requires continued high levels of funding – which in turn requires a certain level of taxable income, which requires decent wages.
And ‘deregulation’, another tenet of neoliberalism hardly fits the appetite for policing the pandemic.
And leaving employment up the free-market hasn’t worked in many sectors following Brexit – it turns out that many migrant labourers now see themselves as better off simply staying in their home countries such as Romania rather than coming to Britain to work on a temporary VISA, and so raising the minimum wage is necessary to make work pay.
The government simply has to step in and legislate to prop up wages and take on debt to stimulate the public sector – otherwise millions of the working poor would find themselves earning too little to meet their basic needs.
It would seem that even a government nominally committed to neoliberalism can’t follow through with a neoliberal agenda at this time!?!