Unite, Britain's biggest union, has accused the chancellor George Osborne of promising struggling working families 'jam tomorrow' when they need money in their pockets now.
Any proposals to help with the cost of childcare are likely to be wiped out by the other cuts the Tories are making to benefits and credits as well as regressive measures such as the continued high rate of VAT (see notes to editors 1).
To make matters worse reports suggest that the chancellor will announce a further two per cent spending cut in tomorrow's (20 March) budget.
Unite says the chancellor should increase the national minimum wage (NMW) by £1, reverse the welfare cuts, and create jobs for people by growing the economy.
Unite argues that the welfare cuts are causing needless economic pain. The cuts to benefits and tax changes will punch a massive £3.36 billion hole in Britain's spending power in 2013-14 alone (see notes to editors 2). Business also suffers as a result of the cuts which are putting a break on spending in shops and on services.
The Trussell Trust has predicted that tens of thousands more Britons will be forced to rely on emergency food hand-outs when the coalition’s controversial welfare reforms come into force next month.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said:
"The chancellor is promising families 'jam tomorrow' when they need money in their pockets now. Austerity is punching an ugly hole in Britain's high streets while rising prices and the effect of the cuts mean ordinary people are struggling to afford the basics. To make matters worse the chancellor is planning more spending cuts which will deepen austerity when Britain needs a plan B.
"Increasing the national minimum wage by £1 and reversing the welfare cuts would have the immediate effect of getting people to spend money in shops and on services. These measures would put money into the economy instead of this disastrous path to poverty.
"The government's promise to help with childcare is a distant illusion because the cuts to welfare and the politics of austerity are hurting working families now. Any future help with the massive cost of childcare is being wiped out by the scale of the government's cuts. "
Contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
Notes to editors:
(1) See Howard Reed, A Bleak Future for Families, for the TUC, March 2013.
(2) In the IFS Green Budget the revenue generated to the Treasury in 2013-14 of changes made to benefits and tax credits will be £3.36 billion in the year 2013-14. This is therefore not money being spent by households over that year.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.
Jam tomorrow is from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass (1871), where Alice is offered “jam tomorrow and jam yesterday — but never jam today"