Our message to Rishi Sunak:  “A gimmicky budget – but it won’t build back fairer and greener”

“This was a gimmicky budget designed to get favourable media treatment, but what we needed was a budget that will build back fairer and greener after COVID – and it fails on both counts” said Martin Mayer Secretary of Sheffield TUC.

“It won’t build back fairer..”

“This was a chance to “level up” as the Government is fond of saying”, said Martin Mayer “but the truth is when you analyse the figures there’s little or no gain for low-income families in this Budget”

The £20 cut to Universal Credit (worth £6B) stays in place costing claimants £1000 per year. The Budget announcement of an 8p reduction in the taper (worth £2B) for low-income families in work will not compensate for that – and leaves those out of work (many of whom are unable to work due to health reasons) with no respite. The National Insurance hike of 1.25% will hit low-income workers earning as little as £9568 p.a. Meanwhile Council Tax bills are going up by an average of £400 per year.

“The Chancellor has piled the biggest tax burden in peacetime on working people,” said Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor in her reply to the Budget.

The announcement that the public sector pay freeze will end in April 2022 is a relief, but will it even match inflation for the year, let alone make up the massive 15+% cut in real incomes experienced by public sector workers following successive pay cuts/below inflation increases under Tory Governments since 2010?

The increase in the National Living Wage to £9.50 per hour only applies to 23-year-olds and over and falls short of the £10 minimum target set by Labour and £15 called for by TUC, and leaves in place appallingly low rates for apprentices and those under 23. The Living Wage Foundation has calculated that the Real Living Wage (based on what people actually need to live on) should be £9.50 NOW across the UK and £10.85 in London.

  Rate from April 2022 Current rate (April 2021      
National Living Wage £9.50 £8.91 6.6%
21–22-Year-Old Rate £9.18 £8.36 9.8%
18–20-Year-Old Rate £6.83 £6.56 4.1%
16–17-Year-Old Rate £4.81 £4.62 4.1%
Apprentice Rate £4.81 £4.30 11.9%

But the real issue is household fuel and heating bills going through the roof and record levels of inflation likely to wipe out any meagre gains from this Budget for low-income families.


..and it won’t build back greener!

“It is shocking that with the UK hosting COP 26 in just a week’s time, Rishi Sunak’s Budget speech had nothing to say about the climate emergency” said Martin Mayer “and actually took some major backward steps in combating climate change.”

Yet again there is no public money being invested in the transformation to a green, low carbon economy. The Tories appear to believe that private enterprise will make all the investment decisions we need! A £21B road investment programme dwarfs the comparatively measly £7B promise for bus, rail, tram and cycling projects over 5 years and completely ignores all the arguments in favour of boosting public transport and reducing car use in order to reduce transport carbon emissions. Perhaps the most startling anti-green decision was the big reduction in Air Passenger Duty on internal flights – which will predominantly benefit richer people and business men and women. We should be encouraging train travel instead of short distance flights – yet train fares are due to rise by up to 12% in January! There was no announcement on public investment in new green energy, insulating people’s homes, or investing in desperately need new council homes that are zero emission. He even extended the fuel duty freeze on petrol and diesel – sending entirely the wrong message while bus fares are rising and patronage levels still well below normal.