The Chancellor’s Budget was “short on fairness, short of ideas and short of a feel good factor to persuade people that the pain of continuing austerity was worth it” said UNISON chief Dave Prentis.
Dave Prentis said:
“The Chancellor has run out of time and ideas. His claims that people are feeling the benefits of his austerity agenda are wearing thin. The public are not fooled, they know that the gap between the rich and poor is dividing society. They know that their pay has failed to keep pace with the rising cost of everyday essentials such asfood and fuel. And they know that fears over job stability are making them fearful for the future and the future oftheir families.
“UNISON members will see through the Chancellor’s Budget for what it means – at least another 4 years of pain for little gain. Hundreds and thousands of public service workers have lost their jobs since the Coalition came to power and Osborne has signalled more cuts to come and their hard-saved pensions under threat again. For those that remain, their pay has been frozen and its value cut between 10% and 18% since 2010.
“UNISON has more than 1m members in Local Government, Education and in the NHS and they are upset and angry at the Government’s pay cap. Not lifting that cap in the Budget today is a clear provocation and they will feel the backlash from nurses, homecare workers, paramedics, therapists, librarians, social workers, teaching assistants and many more. Public service workers don’t care about the shape of the £1coin – they would just like to see more of them in their pockets.
There is an alternative that the Chancellor is ignoring because of political dogma said the union. Instead of more of the same, UNISON is calling for a fairness package that would benefit the many, not just the few.
Dave Prentis, went on to say:
“Osborne’s sleight of hand over tax changes will do little to close the gap between the haves and havenots. Those on higher incomes are the majority beneficiaries of such a move, while the low pay stand to lose through cuts to universal credit and/or council tax support.
“There is an alternative. The Chancellor should have had the courage of his convictions and stood by his support of a £7 minimum wage. Moving to the Living Wage is the best way to raise tax revenue and put money into people’s pockets. It would boost consumer confidence and increase spending in local shops and businesses.
UNISON’s Fairness Package:
UNISON believes the £2.34billion for a moratorium on public service job cuts in 2014/15 can be funded by introducing a permanent tax of 50% on bankers’ bonuses above £25,000 which raised £3.5billion in 2010. In 2013/14 both Barclays Bank paid £2.4billion and RBS £576m in bonuses.
With a public sector pay bill of approximately £167billion in 2012/13, making provision for a wage increase that keeps pace with inflation, would cost around £3.173billion. Increasing public sector pay at the rate recommended by the Low
Pay Commission for the Minimum Wage would cost just over £5billion. UNISON believes reversing the Government’s cut in corporation tax for big businesses to levels still lower than the US or any other G7 economy generating £4.35billion – could raise this amount.
At a time when the cost of living is increasing the Government has targeted cuts in spending at the poorest by reducing social security payments whilst offering cuts in tax rates for the most wealthy. This is clearly immoral and goes against the concept of a redistributive tax system that is fair toeveryone. UNISON believes the Government should use the £2billion from a “mansion tax” on the most expensive homes to:
· Reverse the 10% (£475million) cut to council tax benefit funding
· Reverse the £500million cut to housing benefit resulting from the Government’s “bedroom tax”
· Reverse the decision to limit increases in Child Benefit to 1% in 2014/15 and increase by 5% instead (£880million)