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  • Overdue spending u-turn must repair ten years of Tory devastation

Commenting on today’s (Wednesday) Budget Statement, which set out emergency action to tackle coronavirus, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“The government’s coronavirus plans will leave millions of workers behind. Without urgent action, too many will be plunged into poverty and debt.

“Today’s announcements won’t help the nearly 2 million people who miss out on sick pay because they don’t earn enough. Telling them to turn to the broken benefits system isn’t good enough. We need decent sick pay for all.

“Ministers must now urgently bring together unions and employers to talk about how to support jobs, including through wage subsidies for short time working schemes, and further help for public services – especially social care.”

On investment announcements, she added:

“This spending u-turn is badly overdue. The priority now must be to repair the damage of ten years of Tory devastation.

“Helping working families and rebuilding public services must come first. And we need to see concrete action on the challenges of the future.

“This means banning zero hours contracts, sorting social care, ending the UK’s dire regional inequalities, setting out a credible plan to achieve net zero, and getting an EU trade deal that supports jobs and workers across the UK.”

Editors note

- TUC Budget tests: The TUC set out the following tests for the Chancellor ahead of the 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.
    • Close 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.
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