Sheffield TUC slams “Austerity-in-Disguise” Budget
- No Action – to deal with record levels of poverty and inequality
- No Action – to fund cash-strapped public services e.g. NHS and Councils
- No Action – to fund public investment in a green recovery
- No Action – to “build back better” and not simply return to how things were
Responding to yesterday’s Tory Budget, Martin Mayer Sheffield TUC secretary said “Rishi Sunak’s 3rd March Budget for all its slick presentation was an austerity budget, freezing pay for NHS and other public sector workers, and disguising a further £4B hit to our public services. There’s no new money for our overstretched NHS, the Care Sector, Education, Local Authorities or the Fire Service. Whilst he bowed to pressure not to cut the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, it will go in September. Those on legacy benefits are struggling desperately now without the £20, and all benefits rise by just a tiny fraction of 1% on 1st April.” Freezing tax allowances from next April will hit those on low incomes hardest, making more of their income subject to tax. Meanwhile Council Tax rises above inflation this year.
Media attention has concentrated on the extended COVID fall-out support for business and on the extension of furlough, which is welcome but whilst the taxpayer will pay £40,000 of a £50,000 salary, those struggling on the Minimum Wage receive just 80% which is simply not enough to live on. There’s no extra help to those on low incomes having to self-isolate and Rishi Sunak has ignored calls to pay the £500 grant without restrictions or raise Britain’s paltry SSP (currently just £95.85p rising by just 0.5% to £96.35 in April 2021). There’s no help for people struggling to pay the rent, yet there’s money there to help those with enough in the bank to buy a house.
“The other real story is the Tory vision for an economic recovery”, said Martin Mayer. “There’s to be no public investment in desperately needed council homes, green energy, public transport, insulation or digital technology. Instead we must rely on a fantasy free-enterprise bonanza of investment, massively subsidised by the public purse with an eye-watering 130% offset on taxable profits. This is topped up with “pork barrel” dole-outs of cash to favoured Tory constituencies e.g. £24.1M for Stocksbridge where Miriam Cates is the local Tory MP but nothing for the rest of Sheffield, and £23.1M to Goldthorpe in Rother Valley which elected a Tory MP for the first time.”
“We welcome the reversal of the Tories’ Corporation tax cuts agenda (currently 19% and previously scheduled to be cut further to 17%) by raising it 25% in 2 years’ time,” said Martin Mayer. “Profitable big business must be made to pay its share because otherwise the tax burden falls on those least able to afford it. But this will still be far lower than any of the other G7 nations or our European neighbours. We need to go further and recover tens of billions tax that is evaded, avoided or simply goes uncollected every year from wealthy individuals and businesses. We also need to close off Britain’s shady tax havens and ensure tax is paid here on the wealth that’s created here in the UK”
Perhaps most concerning of all is the Government’s total abdication of responsibility for a green recovery to create good jobs and address climate change. “We know we cannot rely on the private sector to invest to combat climate change” said Martin Mayer “yet we have no plan for direct Government investment in the green revolution we desperately need. We welcome the new investment bank in Leeds – actually an idea borrowed from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Manifesto in 2019 -but the Tory version lacks political direction and seems geared to promote private sector investment whether green or not”
This Budget makes clear that the Tories’ post-BREXIT vision for the UK is a deregulated free-enterprise utopia based on cheap low-cost labour and a further rolling-back of the public sector. “That means declining real incomes for the many, increasing inequality and shameful levels of child poverty here in the 5th wealthiest country in the world. Trade unions and their members will have to stand up and fight every step of the way.” said Martin Mayer.
“The message to all workers is clear” said Martin Mayer “Join a trade union for your protection and for the collective strength to fight for better pay and conditions” Any workers who want to discuss how to do this and get help organising should get in touch with Sheffield TUC in the first instance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or sending a message on our Sheffield TUC Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Sheffield-TUC-136443963099901/