Responding to the Chancellor’s budget statement Grahame Smith STUC General Secretary said:
“It is clear that the UK Government’s economic strategy lies in ruins. Austerity is a failed policy that is heaping undue misery on people across the UK. It is economic illiteracy in the extreme and yet the Chancellor has rejected another opportunity to change course.
“This budget is bad news for public services. Despite raising expectations, to the contrary Phillip Hammond has washed his hands of funding a pay rise for public service workers. “The Chancellor must not pick and choose particular uniforms and sectors to favour.
“Leaving it at the discretion of individual ministers and departments, which are already underfunded and facing further cuts, will provide no relief for the millions of public workers suffering due to declining living standards.
“Announcements around changes in tax thresholds show where his priorities lie. The Chancellor would prefer to handout tax cuts to the highest earners rather than use the tax system to support investment in the economy. It is not the richest who need relief but the services and public workers that we all rely on. His moves to ease pressures as a result of universal credit are welcome, but are unlikely to go far enough to protect the poorest in our society.
“The economy is facing a difficult period ahead and there is little in this budget to suggest that the Chancellor has recognised the scale of the challenge. We now look to the Scottish Government to see if their approach to the economy can undo some of this damage. We call on Derek Mackay to use the Scottish Parliament’s tax and borrowing powers, including ensuring that the tax breaks offered to the rich this afternoon are not replicated in Scotland. This is necessary to provide the support and investment that the economy and working people so desperately need.”
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