Immediately after Prime Minister's Questions at 12.30pm tomorrow Chancellor George Osborne will deliver his Autumn Statement - a budget in all but name.
It was heavily trailed in newspapers last weekend and in interviews Osborne gave to the Andrew Marr show on Sunday.
The news media seem to have swallowed the line that the economy is "coming out of recession."
The true picture is rather different - as a parliamentary Labour Party briefing puts it, "There will be six new cuts, which will slash £3.1 billion from households in 2013-14 alone and target disabled people, children and the working poor.
"In the same year the government is giving the richest in society a £3bn tax cut, meaning that 8,000 millionaires will get a cut of at least £40,000.
"These plans fail the fairness test, they fail the jobs and growth test and all the time the cost of this government's economic failure is sending the welfare bill spiralling out of control."
Sadly the media don't tend to call Osborne's bluff when he pitches his case for cuts.
In his interviews he persists in the strange view that there is some equivalence between the very wealthy, who have been systematically avoiding tax by clever investments or moving their residence to tax havens, and the poorest in society who have to rely on benefits.
In the case of the big corporations we've seen a massive tax dodge in which Starbucks, Amazon and a number of other companies pay very little tax in this country.
Osborne explains that he intends to employ more civil servants in Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs to chase up the errant non-taxpayers.
This from a Chancellor who dismissed many HMRC staff as part of a cost-cutting exercise in 2010 and earlier this year stated his plans to chop another 10,000 posts by 2015.
It's pretty obvious that if you get rid of tax inspectors then there's less tax inspection taking place.
And barely pausing for breath Osborne goes on to say that as the rich were going to have to pay more in tax - ie what they ought to have been paying all along - those on benefits would also have to make a contribution.
Unemployment is almost 2.5 million across the UK - of whom nearly a million have been unemployed for 12 months and 500,000 for two years.
The highest jobless rate, at almost 10 per cent, is in north-east England, the lowest, at 5.8 per cent, in the south-west. The areas of lowest unemployment are the Tory hinterlands - central and southern England.
If we break it down by age rather than area we discover that 963,000 under-24s are unemployed - a rate of 20.7 per cent, by far the highest of any age group.
And those are only the officially unemployed. Look between the lines and you'll see that eight million people were only employed part-time in September, with the number who said they could not find full-time jobs at 1.4 million.
One of the most disturbing figures is that the number of people who are economically inactive - not in work and not looking for a job, possibly because they've been moved off benefits though there may be other reasons - amounted to nine million people.
Social inequality is a huge issue in Britain, as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation regularly points out, and everything this government is doing is making it worse.
Life expectancy is just 65 in the most deprived areas and the gap between these and the least deprived areas is growing.
In 1981 20 per cent of children were judged to be living in "low-income households" (poverty to you and me). That's now risen to 27 per cent after housing costs.
The progress made on child poverty under the last Labour government is being rapidly reversed as Osborne's first tranche of benefit cuts from the emergency budget of 2010 kick in.
And there's a spectre haunting the entire country - the looming benefit cap that will soon come down hard on the poorest, whether they're in work or not.
From April next year benefits will be limited to £500 a week for couples and lone-parent households and £350 a week for single adults.
Some might see £500 as a big income but the reality is that the astronomically high private-sector rents that many of the poorest people pay in London and some other parts of the country are quickly outstripping benefit levels.
Wholesale social cleansing is taking place as thousands are forced out of their private rented homes in inner London, either to distant suburbs or outside the capital altogether. The poor on benefits are being dumped to make way for ever higher rents and property speculation.
As if the benefit cap isn't enough, from later next year universal credit will be introduced for all new claimants, with a stated aim of reducing government costs by 20 per cent.
This is particularly terrifying for those on disability benefit, who are already going through the humiliation of Atos interviews which seem invariably to assess people as being fit for work. Those so assessed lose all their disability benefit and are placed on Jobseeker's Allowance. Many get their benefits back after winning appeals against the frequently incorrect assessments - but the stress caused to them is truly appalling.
Osborne bravely told Parliament in 2010 that the whole austerity programme would be completed before the next election in 2015.
He's already postponed the date by a couple of years and no doubt tomorrow he'll postpone it further.
But the austerity packages imposed on countries all over Europe have neither reduced debt nor expanded economies. They have produced greater poverty, inequality and social division.
The reality is we need a radical economic policy that gets people into work, partly through public investment in infrastructure projects and services, and also increases the wages of the lowest paid while raising taxes at the top end to pay for this.
Labour still hasn't woken up to this. The last Labour government tentatively bought shares in the major banks in 2008 to prevent them going bankrupt, but it was a model of support for the private sector rather than real public ownership.
Labour didn't vote against the benefit cap, and the party harbours far too much language about social entitlement when it should be promoting the right of everyone to be free from poverty, as the original founders of the welfare state envisaged.
The last government's commitment to deep cuts in the event of a Labour victory in 2010 seriously undermined our chances.
Most trade unions, the TUC and many others recognise the terrible damage being done by austerity and are looking for an economic alternative which tackles inequality and provides for a publicly directed economic strategy.
Osborne is hardly likely to promise any such thing this afternoon. But his determination to cosset the very wealthiest must be more than matched by our dedication to improve the lives of the poorest people in our country.
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