The People’s Assembly Against Austerity, to give it its full title, launched in February 2013 with an open letter to The Guardian, backed by political figures such as Tony Benn. It aims to be a broad united national campaign against austerity, cuts and privatisation in UK workplaces, community and welfare services, and to encourage a wide debate on how to protect the welfare state and develop an alternative programme for economic and social recovery.
The initiative is backed by major trade unions such as Unite, UNISON, NUT, NUJ, PCS and RMT, by other campaigning groups, and by individuals such as Tariq Ali, Imran Khan, John Pilger and Ken Loach.
Its Web site states that it is ‘linked to no political party, committed to open non-sectarian working and dedicated to supplementing, rather than supplanting, trade union, student, pensioner and community opposition to austerity measures’. It has been described as a movement to "push the arguments against austerity" it sees as missing from British politics, and to fight for all those people it sees as being hit by government policies, including low-paid workers, disabled people, unemployed people, black, minority and ethnic groups, women and the young.
As well as putting on national demonstrations and other events the Assembly encourages members to get involved in campaigning work carried out by local People's Assemblies, which were either founded after the founding People's Assembly, or incorporate pre-existing local anti-cuts groups.