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Budget 2020 - four challenges to turn around Britain’s economy

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We’re calling on the Chancellor to make the 2020s a decade of renewal – with green infrastructure, rebuilding of public services, and support for better quality jobs.

Today Chancellor Rishi Sunak will deliver his first Budget.

It’s a tough brief for the new man in 11 Downing Street in the face of the Coronavirus outbreak, record flooding, sustained weak economic growth and pressure for greater public spending to fix our broken public services.

Last Sunday, the TUC published its Budget submission to the Treasury setting out what we think the Budget should include to help working people get back on their feet.

We’ve had a decade of devastation because of government cuts to essential services. These cuts have not only pushed services to the brink, but have crushed economic growth and caused the worst pay crisis for two centuries. The damage needs to be undone urgently.

So we’re calling on the Chancellor to make the 2020s a decade of renewal – with green infrastructure, rebuilding of public services, and support for better quality jobs.

On top of this, we’re calling on the government to do something for the almost 2 million low-paid workers who don’t earn enough to qualify for Statutory Sick Pay.

No one should be out of pocket for doing the right thing by following the government’s advice to self-isolate to stop the spread of the virus.

That’s why we’re calling for #SickPayForAll from day one – for every worker in the UK.

Four challenges

We’ve set the government four challenges to turn around Britain’s weak and austerity-damaged economy. Each challenge comes with its own tests for this Budget.

1. Prepare the country for a just transition to a low carbon economy

  • A major increase in public investment to meet the UK’s net zero target.
  • Public investment in infrastructure and low carbon projects must come with requirements for job creation in neighbouring communities, trade union agreements, and minimum standards for pay and conditions.
  • Public investment in lifelong learning accounts, and a new right to paid time off to train.

2. Invest in communities as well as infrastructure

  • Fresh plans on the future of social care, including how we fund, commission and provide services and support a world-class workforce.
  • A commitment and roadmap to reopen or replace the 500 children’s centres that were cut in the last decade, without raiding budgets for other services.

3. Decent jobs across the country

  • Ensuring real wages are growing strongly for everyone.
  • Closed employment gaps across the country while keeping employment rising; and
  • A commitment to ban zero-hours contracts in the forthcoming Employment Bill.

4. A strong economy with trade deals that protects jobs, rights and peace

  • Deliver the additional £100 billion pledged for public investment in infrastructure, with a further £25bn in each of the next three years on a just transition to a low carbon economy.
  • Fiscal rules must be revamped for an era of renewal and development, with recognition of the economic returns from investment in public services.
  • The UK’s priority trade deal must be with the EU. It must protect jobs, rights and peace, preserving frictionless trade in goods and services.

Urgent action needed to tackle coronavirus

The TUC is also calling on the Treasury to ensure the financing needed for an emergency support package for workers affected by coronavirus, including:

  • Emergency legislation to ensure Statutory Sick Pay coverage for all workers, no matter how much they earn.
  • An increase in the amount of sick pay to the equivalent of the National Living Wage.
  • A requirement that those asked by their employer to self-isolate on public health grounds remain on full pay.
  • An emergency fund to assist employers with the cost and to cover workers not currently eligible for Statutory Sick Pay.

Time for renewal

The Chancellor’s first budget must set out the roadmap for renewal in the 2020s.

Britain needs major public investment to revive communities, raise wages and kickstart the transition to a net-zero economy.

And alongside this we need a credible plan to deliver better jobs and higher living standards.

We will be watching to see if the reality matches the rhetoric.

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