George Osborne’s budget risks taking Britain backwards with further austerity and fails to realise the government’s ambition of boosting productivity warned Britain’s largest union Unite today (Wednesday 8 July).
Cuts to tax credits and help with soaring housing costs combined with continued pay restraint in the public sector will hold back the economic recovery warned Unite, and cause government to miss its already dwindling growth targets.
Commenting Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The fear is that the promise of a national living wage does not go far enough or fast enough to plug the hole that many families face in their finances because of this budget.
“Cutting help with low incomes and high housing costs will punish millions of households who have already seen their incomes fall by £40 per week since the financial crash. While the exclusion of younger workers from the national living wage is another reminder that this government has little else to offer them but workfare exploitation or poverty pay.
“Having faced almost a decade of collapsing wages, the millions across the public sector who keep our country running will be furious that they face a further four years of pay pain.
“The slower pace to the pain of austerity will be no comfort to people just about surviving. The last Tory government left us a less equal, divided country. I fear once again we have a Tory party ready to take this nation backwards.”
On productivity and economic growth McCluskey added: “Growth has been revised down again by the chancellor and the promised budget ‘surplus’ has slipped because austerity economics do not work.
“There is another way. With interest rates at rock bottom, today’s budget was a sorely missed opportunity to borrow to build and invest through an industrial strategy to boost productivity.
“We need an industrial strategy that includes a ‘made in Britain, bought by Britain’ public procurement policy to help boost manufacturing and promote sustainable growth.”
Unite said that a budget for fairness to take Britain forward should have included:
An industrial strategy to invest in high skilled jobs, not the ‘hands free’ approach outlined by the business secretary.
Procurement policies to ensure the government and public contractors buy UK-produced goods and services eg for the emergency service to use British-built vehicles.
Local authorities freed to borrow to build housing to lower rising rents and address the five million in housing need.
An end to the public sector pay attacks, immediately boosting local economies; public sector workers spend around 60p in every £1 in their local communities.
Serious measures to tackle tax evasion and avoidance costing the nation an estimated £120 billion.
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.