UNISON opinion: The budget will deliver more cuts and more pain

‘After fourteen years of economic mismanagement, I know what to expect from tomorrow’s budget’

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

Working people are bearing a triple burden. The cost of living crisis is still here, taxes are weighing heavy on workers, and in return, we’re getting broken public services that can’t guarantee support for everyone.

It’s even more galling for public service workers – they spend their working lives propping up essential services, only to be undermined at every turn by the Westminster government.

Underfunding services and undervaluing the workforce sabotages every effort made in hospitals, councils, schools, care homes and in the community.

The prime minister and the chancellor keep telling the public to stick with the plan, but the plan failed a long time ago.

Tomorrow’s Budget is an opportunity to help the economy grow, invest in public services, tackle low pay and ensure the country is not only prepared for the challenges ahead, but building a better future for everyone.

It will likely fail on all counts, with the Conservatives hoping to take off the edge with a sweetener gimmick. But gimmicks and slogans don’t put food on the table.

Rishi’s recession threatens to trap even more people into poverty, and the Treasury seems poised to further trash our public services with more cuts to spending. They’ll try and justify it with a small cut to income tax or national insurance.

Given the choice, the public would rather miss out on this ploy if it means properly investing in our struggling NHS, broken social care and childcare systems, saving councils from bankruptcy and boosting the economy.

UNISON agrees that taxes on working people are too high and it’s wrong that wealth isn’t taxed to the same level as earned income, but a 1p or 2p cut to National Insurance will benefit the richest households 12 times more than the poorest.

UNISON believes in an economy that has fairness at its heart. That means cancelling the personal allowance freeze so the lowest earners aren’t pulled into paying taxes they can’t afford. It means increasing taxes on unearned wealth so landlords are no longer paying less in taxes than their tenants. And it means fixing the tax loopholes that allow non-doms to get away with not paying their fair share, and gives the green light to oil and gas companies pocketing mega profits while polluting the planet.

Above all, fairness is about equal access to great quality public services. Right now, they’re on their knees – as are the workers delivering them.

After fourteen years of economic mismanagement, I know what to expect from tomorrow’s budget. More pain for working people, more money in the pockets of the wealthiest, more cuts to public services.

With the right people in power, making the right choices, it is possible to have a thriving economy, driven by a healthy, happy, safe and productive workforce. But all this depends on having a government that will deliver decent public services that can support everyone.