23/03/2014 - Unions condemn ConDem budget

Solidarity has joined with other Unions to condemn the latest budget saying that “it continues the austerity agenda” and “fails to address the long-term problems we face as a Nation”.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: ”This government’s obsession with austerity is causing misery for millions of people while the over-hyped economic recovery benefits only a wealthy few.

“Instead we need free universal childcare so parents can afford to return to work, a living wage and an end to pay cuts, and proper investment to create sustainable jobs and build the homes to tackle the scandal of our housing crisis.”

GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: “This budget reeks of the stuck-up complacency of the well-heeled elite. Osborne’s claim that the economy will get back to pre-recession levels this year is sadly not the case. GDP per head is still 5.7% down on 2007 and real value of average earning is also down 13.8%. There is a very long way to go to get living standards for the vast majority of workers back to pre-recession levels.

“The Budget is doing very little to get the 912,000 unemployed aged 16-24 into proper jobs. As some 246,000 have been out of work for over a year there is a grave danger of seeing a lost generation.”

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “Apprenticeships have the potential to be this country’s success story and we welcome news of extra places from the chancellor today. We support more apprenticeships and greater opportunities for all, but the government must provide the necessary funds.

“Apprentices should receive the national minimum wage, not less than £3 an hour as they can currently be paid. We would like to see longer apprenticeships, with a minimum of three years, to ensure people receive a well-rounded education.”

Describing the inheritance tax cut for emergency service workers a smokescreen for cuts, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Inheritance tax only applies to those leaving more than £325,000, so it is hard to assess how many would actually benefit.

Meanwhile, the families of all firefighters, including those killed at work, will be worse off as a result of government attacks on our pensions.

“Far too many firefighters are dying on duty as a result of a near total failure of the authorities to learn lessons from previous tragedies.

“Rather than gimmicks, the chancellor should focus on ensuring a properly-funded fire and rescue service — that puts firefighter and public safety first — and should honour promises made in the past over firefighter pensions.”

Patrick Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity said:

“The improvements in the budget aren’t really for ordinary people when you look closer. Take the ISA changes first. The ISA allowance - the amount you can invest each tax year - will rise to £11,880 on 6 April, and then to £15,000 on 1 July 2014. Tell me how many ordinary workers can afford to invest £15,000 a year? This move doesn’t benefit ordinary people it will just increase the disparity between rich and poor. Or look at his pension changes. From April 2015 pension investors will be able to take the whole of their pension as a lump sum, at age 55 if they want to. How many will be tempted to do this and not have enough in later years when it is spent? The limits there were designed to protect people and lead them to get a regular income over the whole of their retirement. Even the increase in the big prizes on Premium Bonds isn’t as good as it seems. The money allocated for prizes stays the same so the big winners will come at the expense of the many smaller prizes. This budget wasn’t for the people. Instead of bread and circuses the ConDem coalition seeks to fool and distract the people with beer and bingo!"