Commenting after the Chancellor announced his Autumn Statement, Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary said:
“There was nothing in this statement to improve the lot of the most vulnerable in society who’ve been hit hardest by austerity since 2010. The significant additional borrowing over this Parliament demonstrates, once again, that austerity is failing on its own terms.
“The increase in the National Living Wage will be lower than that announced at the Spring Budget and benefits of raising the Personal Income Tax threshold will continue to flow mainly to those in the upper half of the income distribution. The persistent refusal of Conservative governments to ask those who can afford to contribute more is scandalous.
“The Chancellor announced a number of interesting measures to address the UK’s productivity problem. However, the National Productivity Investment Fund of £23bn over 5 years is simply not of a sufficient scale to meet this longstanding challenge. It is striking that the Chancellor had so little to say about the delivery of the Government’s much vaunted industrial strategy.
“It is perplexing that the Chancellor ignored the ongoing crisis in the North Sea. The STUC was sceptical over the benefits of further tax reductions but the Chancellor could have established a North Sea Public Investment Fund to safeguard key infrastructure and support the exploration activity vital to the industry’s future. To say nothing at all is simply inexcusable.
“The STUC looks forward to studying the detail of the Budget papers over the next few days and discussing with the Scottish Government how consequentials might best be spent in Scotland.”
Contact: Stephen Boyd 0141 337 8100