The UK economy’s has slowed down ‘notably’ according to the latest GDP figures released yesterday (July 25), with the leader of Unite, slamming the government, commenting that Tory claims to economic competency were `truly in tatters’ now.
Office of national statistics figures show that in the first quarter of 2017, GDP shrank to 0.3 per cent compared to the 0.7 per cent over the same period in 2016 – making it the weakest six months’ growth for five years.
The result was even lower than the government expected. “Conservative claims to be the party of economic competency are laughable now,” commented Unite general secretary Len McCluskey.
“Their credibility is truly in tatters as the economy shrinks, kept afloat by high street spending and, very worryingly, booming personal debt,” he added.
Labour’s John McDonnell said that from this result revealed “weak growth under a weak government,” exposing seven years of Tory economic failure.
He believed it was clear that only Labour had the right plan for investment and economic growth. Most affected were construction and manufacturing industries – output fell by 0.9 and 0.5 per cent respectively over the period.
“The truth is that the Tories’ austerity cuts have undermined working people’s living standards and weakened the UK economy,” McDonnell said.
“Only a Labour government has a strategic plan of investment to boost growth … which will help build a high-wage, high-skill economy that works for the many, not the few.”
McCluskey agreed, adding, “The Tories cannot keep pulling at the same busted lever, austerity. Surely the repeated gloomy news on the economy has mean that the penny is dropping? You cannot cut your way to growth.”
The TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady warned that with falling wages and rising family debt the “signs of strain are starting to show”.
O’Grady insisted the government had to “step up to the plate” with a suitable plan to boost investment. They could start this right away by scrapping the public-sector pay cap and increasing the minimum wage to £10 per hour.
An immediate change of direction was paramount. “They must change gear,” said McCluskey. “Bring forward plans – and cash – to repair the damage that they have done to the economy and our public services, and to put some money in the wages of the workers.
“Working people, remember, do not hoard their cash in offshore accounts. They spend it. They are the motor of the economy. It is high time that the government grasped this basic fact and helped and acted to make work pay again in this country,” he concluded.