COMMENTING ON THE BUDGET statement from the UK Government, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The chancellor is making a dangerous bet on the economy bouncing back on its own. He is gambling with the recovery when he should have acted to create jobs.
“We are in the worst recession of our lifetimes. But while President Biden acts big, the chancellor thinks small. We saw nothing like the investment we need to stop unemployment and level-up the UK with millions of new green jobs. Freeports don’t create jobs – and around the world they allow freeloading employers to dodge taxes.
“And after a year of key workers going above and beyond, it’s an insult that the chancellor announced no new support for our hard-pressed NHS or public services and no guarantee of a decent pay rise for all our public sector key workers.
“The last-minute extension of furlough, while welcome, ends too soon, which will risk jobs and businesses. Cutting universal credit in October will risk family incomes. And failing to fix decent sick pay for all risks more infections and another lockdown.”
The budget falls far short of the level of action called for in the TUC’s budget submission. The overall level of public investment to stimulate recovery has not been increased by the budget.
The TUC budget submission called for the chancellor to:
- Extend the job retention scheme to the end of 2021, and bring in a wage floor to prevent furlough pay falling below the minimum wage.
- Fast-track £85 billion investment in green infrastructure to create 1.2 million jobs over the next two years.
- Make permanent the £20 per week increase in universal credit, and end the five-week wait for new universal credit claimants to receive payment.
- Unlock the 600,000 jobs in public services needed to fill vacancies and gaps.
- Fix statutory sick pay by raising it to £330 per week (to match the level of the real Living Wage) and extend eligibility to the two million low-paid workers currently excluded from SSP.
- Raise the national minimum wage to at least £10 per hour.
- Retain the Union Learning Fund, which supports 200,000 workplace learners annually.
- Increase child benefit and child tax credit and remove the two-child limit.
* Source: Trades Union Congress