Commenting after the Chancellor announced his Autumn Statement to Parliament, Grahame Smith, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary said:
“There is nothing today’s statement to help embed the recovery and create decent jobs. While recent growth is largely attributable to consumer spending, real wages continue to fall at rate unprecedented in modern times. Yet the Chancellor brazenly adopted a triumphalist tone just as the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) revised down its forecast for wages growth. He continues to ignore the glaring disconnect between growth and living standards.
“Business investment is contributing very little to growth and remains well below pre-recession levels. Net trade made a negative contribution to growth over the last quarter. This is not the ‘rebalancing’ promised by the Chancellor in 2010. Additional departmental cuts were announced although the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and others have questioned whether it will even be possible to implement previously announced cuts.
“The Chancellor’s presentation of the state of the UK economy and the impact of his Government’s policies was, as we’ve come to expect, highly disingenuous: employment is at its ‘highest ever level’ only because population has risen and he had not a word to say about the quality of jobs created. The employment rate at both UK and Scottish level remains significantly below, and the unemployment rate significantly above, their pre-recession levels.
“The impact of the decision to cut employer NI contributions for workers aged 21 and under is highly uncertain. Without a significant increase in the overall demand for labour the effect on the 21 plus cohort could be damaging as the measure clearly changes recruitment incentives.
“As always the STUC will now take some time to study the detail of both the Autumn Statement and the OBR’s Economic and Fiscal Outlook. We also look forward to discussing with the Scottish Government how any consequentials might best be invested”.
Stephen Boyd 0141 337 8100