The last Budget of this Parliament is almost upon us.
Media reports have hinted at some of the famous red box’s likely contents. Pensioners able to cash in their annuities and changes to inheritance tax, but it’s doubtful there’ll be much among George Osborne’s 2015 Budget speech for public service workers.
In the last five years local government and NHS employees have paid a heavy price for the huge damage wreaked on the world’s economy by the reckless bankers.
Business as usual might have returned long ago to the City, but for ordinary families austerity has meant extensive pay pain, savage job cuts and huge reductions in public spending.
Despite the return to economic growth in recent times, along with falling unemployment and rising wages, the good times still feel a long way off for most.
George Osborne should announce tomorrow that he is ditching austerity.
Public service workers want to hear that the Chancellor’s damaging economic approach is to be replaced with a programme of sustained investment that will create thousands of well-paid, good quality jobs.
And with a million more public sector jobs due to be axed by the end of the decade, they’d also like George Osborne to say he’s chosen instead to tax the bankers more harshly so he can stop more streets from being plunged into darkness, and save more libraries, children’s centres and women’s refuges.
They’d like to hear the Chancellor announce a decent pay rise for public servants – an increase that would undo the untold damage caused by the government’s harsh and unfair policy of pay freezes and below inflation increases.
They’d also like to hear him announce a new government drive to encourage all employers who can afford to pay their staff the living wage to do so.
This would give a long overdue boost to household incomes after years of falling real wages. And more money in the pockets of nurses, teaching assistants and home care workers means high streets up and down the country get to benefit too.
Public service workers who have found themselves priced out of the towns and cities in which they work want to hear the Chancellor announce a huge expansion in affordable house-building so they can put an end to their ever-lengthening commutes.
And last but not least they’d like to hear the Chancellor announce moves to curb the spread of the zero-hours contract.
The modern way of working which might grant flexibility to a few, but for most means financial uncertainty, with all the power in the hands of their boss.
A Budget that delivers for ordinary people is what we all would like to hear. Unfortunately, I suspect we’re very unlikely to.