Speaking after the Chancellor made his Budget Statement to the House of Commons, Grahame Smith, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary said:
“The extent of the Coalition’s failure is laid bare by today’s statement. Growth in 2013 is now predicted to be only half what the Chancellor forecast in his Autumn Statement only four months ago. Forecasts for both deficit and debt have increased and debt will now peak later.
“While the STUC had called for a major programme of infrastructure investment to get the economy moving, the measures announced today by the Chancellor are wholly insufficient. Funding this investment through additional spending cuts dilutes any stimulatory effect and the programme is in any case much too small.
“Given that any consequentials to Scotland will at least partially be offset by spending cuts, the STUC expects any stimulatory effect to be insignificant in economic terms. However the additional pain for those affected by the cuts will be very real.
“The STUC is pessimistic about the cut in employers’ NI contributions generating much jobs growth given that the current problem is low demand for goods and services. It also provides another opportunity for avoidance as employers will now look to split companies into separate units. The further cut in tax for corporations currently sitting on a mountain of cash will have no discernible impact beyond boosting executive pay and bonuses.
“There was nothing of value in this Budget to address the living standards crisis. Consistently focusing on raising the tax threshold is not a credible way of addressing inequality and falling real incomes. This expensive measure ignores the very poorest who don’t pay tax and benefits most those in the upper half of the income distribution.
“While the STUC is minded to support any additional support for childcare the measures announced today are likely to push up costs and, again, benefit the wealthiest most. A much better approach would have been to learn from the best childcare systems around the world and start directly subsidising provision”.
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