Today’s (November 22) budget is far from the ‘game-changer’ the country needs and will do little to ease the biggest squeeze in living standards the country has ever seen, Unite warned.
Responding to the budget delivered by chancellor of exchequer Philip Hammond, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said, “Millions of households, who are struggling to make ends meet in the face of the biggest squeeze in living standards ever, will be left wondering where is this bright future the chancellor keeps going on about?
“With yet further bleak downgraded forecasts for growth, wages and productivity, this is the time when this country desperately needed a game-changing budget to meet the challenges of the years ahead. Instead we got more of the same from a government out of touch with people’s every day struggles.”
He continued, “Communities continue to face more of the cuts which have sucked the life out of the economy, with wages plummeting and personal debt soaring to dangerous levels.
“Services like our NHS, schools and police services face becoming ragged shadows of what they once were. Public sector workers, whose wages have been drained by thousands since the Tories took office, cannot provide for their families with warm words for their selfless service.
“All public sector workers need the pay cap lifted now and a properly funded pay rise, not a pick and mix where only a chosen few see an end to the relentless pay shrinkage.
‘Biggest issue of our age’
“And on the biggest issue of our age, Brexit, the businesses upon whom millions depend for work are no clearer today on the government’s plans to steer us through our EU exit than they were this time yesterday,” McCluskey added.
“The comprehensive package of investment in skills and infrastructure we urgently need was missing. What was offered instead by the chancellor was piecemeal initiatives. It leaves next week’s industrial strategy announcement with the task of demonstrating that the government does actually have a coherent plan to invest in industry and infrastructure to create decent jobs.
“While we got minimal progress on improving the country’s ability to capitalise on vehicle electrification, we did not get the great leap forward that Unite has been calling for.
“The UK will continue to lag well behind competitor countries like Germany, Norway and China in this important new technology unless the government acts with greater urgency with bigger investment and good joined up policies, such as giving cab drivers grants to go electric, as they are doing in London.
“Chancellor Hammond had the chance today to set our country on a path to being a fairer, more equal nation. That he chose not to confirm what voters suspect about the Conservatives, that they are for the few, not the many.”