Chancellor accused of 'a budget for the few by the few'

By staff writers
20 Mar 2013

Trade unions are unimpressed by the 'aspirational' rhetoric of Chancellor George Osborne, saying that hard budget facts undermine his claims.

Unite, Britain's largest union, said today (20 March 2013) the chancellor's idea of aspiration is a warped one as he delivers "a budget for the few by the few".

Its General Secretary Len McCluskey commented: "This is a budget for the few by the few that attacks the many. Millionaires are days away from getting a £40,000 tax cut, but George Osborne is using the budget to attack hard-working public sector workers.

"[He] has gone further by giving big business another tax cut while staff caring for the sick get pay cuts. This Chancellor's idea of aspiration is a warped one. Nurses, police and public servants take a pay hit, while corporations and millionaires are allowed to duck their tax duties to the nation.

"Borrowing is up, growth is halved again and the Chancellor is missing his debt targets. His litany of failures has left Britain hamstrung and there are no measures in the budget to give the economy the major boost it needs now. He is lining up the nation for further gloom and cuts in June through the spending review. His government means more misery for the majority.

"The heralded £10,000 tax threshold offers little hope other than an extra pound or two in low waged workers' pockets. If he really wanted to show he was on the side of the worse off, who aspire to get through the week, [Mr Osborne] should have raised the national minimum wage by £1 and drop the senseless plan to give millionaires a tax break in a few days time."

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: "This budget is the wrong answer to the wrong question. We face a jobs, growth and living standards crisis, yet today's proposals are small beer that do little more than tinker at the edges.

"The only long-term way to mend the public finances is to get a healthy growing economy where businesses and workers earn enough to spend confidently, and those who can afford it pay proper rates of tax.

"To boost growth the Chancellor should use current low interest rates to borrow for investment in infrastructure and a big programme of house-building. He should stop holding back the living standards of those most likely to spend, and stop cuts that suck growth out of the economy.

"And while moving pensions and benefits into annual managed expenditure is technical jargon, it raises the possibility of further significant cuts in payments if spending exceeds the limit set by the Chancellor in his spending review.

"No politician likes to be accused of a u-turn, but when your policies are making the problem worse then it is time to find reverse gear," said Ms O'Grady.

This evening the chief secretary to the treasury, Liberal Democrat MP Danny Alexander, said that private sector job increases were rising far faster than public sector job cuts.

But analysts point out that there is little transfer, and that many of the jobs being created are temporary, insecure, lower paid or dependent on self-employment.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Students is concerned about the 20 per cent unemployment rate among 16-24 year olds, combined with the higher costs of education, housing costs and mounting student debt.

Labour's leader Ed Milliband, in his response to the Chancellor on 20 March 2013, said that the government's priorities were drastically wrong - especially on tax cuts for the highest earners, which will net those earning £1 million a tax bonus of £42,000 in April, while those on £5 million a year net £250,000.

[Ekk/3]

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