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End austerity call

Government records biggest budget surplus in 18 years
Hajera Blagg, Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

The government today (August 21) announced its biggest budget surplus in nearly two decades – a development Unite says is proof that needless austerity must end.


Experts had estimated a July surplus of £1.1bn, up from £1bn last year but figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reveal public sector net borrowing, excluding state-owned banks, was in surplus by £2bn last month.


The ONS said the boosted surplus was in part down to higher-than-expected self-assessment and other tax receipts.


Figures also showed that the deficit excluding banks fell to £12.8bn between April to July this year, £8.5bn less than over the same time period last year.


Economists, trade unionists and politicians and others have agreed that there is now more scope for government borrowing.


Unite general secretary Len McCluskey called on chancellor Philip Hammond to be bold and end austerity.


“Today’s news shows that there is capacity for further borrowing for the crumbling public sector – and the message is that chancellor Philip Hammond should seize the day to reverse the years of neglect,” he said.


“This is the day that mindless Conservative austerity should be brought to a close once and for all.


“The Tories lied when they claimed ‘we’re all in it together’,” McCluskey added. “Under this government, the rich have got richer while dedicated public sector workers – nurses, teachers, refuse and low waged workers – were pushed onto the breadline as they were made to pay for the crooked actions of a banking elite.


“NHS waiting times for routine operations have increased, libraries have closed, begging letters from teachers are commonplace now in schoolbags and potholes in the roads go unrepaired.


“It is high time that the purse strings were loosened to start rebuilding public services and our infrastructure for the overall benefit of the UK,” he noted.


“Increased investment in the NHS, education, house building, local government and transport links is not only now urgently needed, there is also absolutely no excuse for the government not to do so.”


News of the budget surplus comes as the Citizens Advice charity reported skyrocketing household debts and increasing instances of bailiffs aggressively pursuing payment.


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