Tide is turning against government’s austerity programme, says UNISON

The public willingness to accept cuts to public services is ‘exhausted’

UNISON repeated its call for fair funding of public services, through a fair system of taxation, today.

Delegates to the union’s conference in Brighton heard that UK-based companies make multi-million pound profits each year, while often paying nothing in corporation tax.

Gordon McKay of the NEC called such companies “greedy rascals”, whose tax avoidance is costing the treasury billions of pounds.

“And the cost of that shortfall is being paid by public services, with social services destroyed and the NHS brought to its knees,” he said.

Introducing a motion on fairer taxation and the future funding of public services, Mr McKay added: “A fair tax system where those who benefit the most, and can afford the most, pay the most is a sign of a civilised society.”

UNISON’s aims include encouraging a Labour government to introduce a “Robin Hood Tax” on financial transactions, reverse the Tory cuts in corporation tax and scrap Trident, freeing up billions of pounds that could be better invested in public services.

Paula Barker of North West region said that the government’s recent U-turns on cuts to disability payments, tax credits and police funding suggested a “sea change” in wider public opinion.

“The willingness of the public to accept cuts to public services and the welfare state is close to exhausted,” she said.

“The government can’t say the economy is doing well and still make swingeing cuts.”

Ms Barker added that the fight against the government’s austerity programme had become easier during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party.

“For too long, opposition to austerity has been blunted by Labour politicians. Now there is a high-profile, consistent and brave voice against austerity.”

The motion calls on the NEC to work with the trade union councils across the UK, civil society groups and others to establish a model for a fairer and more stable systems of taxation, “specifically to fund public services.”

The union will also amend and reissue UNISON’s alternative economic strategy and encourage its use as a campaigning and educational tool.