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Making this a decade of renewal

TUC Submission to Budget 2020
Report type
Policy proposal
Issue date
Summary of recommendations

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Prepare the country for a just transition to a low carbon, more digital economy

  • Government must dramatically up its investment in meeting the net zero target. And it must ensure that every new infrastructure and low carbon investment project will come with a commitment to new local jobs – and an agreement with trade unions to ensure they are on fair wages.
  • To open up learning opportunities to those facing the greatest barriers, we need a new expansive skills system that provides:
    • lifelong learning accounts for all adults incorporating entitlements to upskill or retrain
    • a new right to paid time off for education and training for workers
    • a new entitlement to a mid-life skills/career review and development of an all-age careers guidance service in England.
  • It is critical for the future of UK science and the long-term strength of British industry that the UK has the maximum possible access to Horizon Europe after we leave the European Union. This means we must continue to contribute to the programme. The Chancellor should confirm in his Budget that we will do so.

Invest in communities as well as in infrastructure

  • Government must announce in the budget how it will meet the commitment made previously by the Prime Minister to bring forward a set of proposals for the future of social care, including how we fund, commission and provide services and support a world class workforce. This should involve deep and meaningful engagement with social care providers, local authority commissioners and trade unions representing adult social care workers.
  • Government must ensure that at least 500 children’s centres are reopened – without the need for further cuts to services.
  • In local government, the quantum of funding needs to increase significantly so that councils can perform their role as service providers, stewards of place and drivers of cohesive and sustainable local communities. And part of this must involve the restoration of capacity lost over the decade of punishing spending cuts.
  • Business rate reform must be undertaken in a way that balances the incentive for local authorities to invest in and grow their local economies, with fair redistribution of resources based on need.
  • Any outcome of the Fair Funding Review in local government will not be sustainable unless it is introduced alongside sufficient additional resources to meet the significant funding gap facing local authorities and to ensure that no council should see its funding reduce as a result of a new distribution system.
  • Within the NHS we need a fully funded workforce strategy that focuses on recruitment but also retention. This should include a focus on pay, pensions and conditions which supports retention of staff. And we need greater investment in CPD for the existing workforce, to reinstate training bursaries for new entrants, increase use of other routes into NHS, including apprenticeships and to remove unnecessary barriers to migrant workers.
  • The budget needs to provide additional funding for schools that meets the scale of the challenge.
  • Pay restoration across the public sector is essential not only out of fairness to public servants, whose wages have been pegged back for a decade, but also to address the growing recruitment and retention crisis across the public sector.
  • The government should also maintain a firm commitment to the protection of public sector pensions schemes in line with the 25 year commitment following revisions to public sector pensions from 2015. This includes providing the funding required to enable employers to meet additional costs resulting from the government’s decision to revise the SCAPE discount rate in January 2019. The chancellor should use this budget to provide departmental funding to meet these additional employer contributions beyond the current funding commitment to 2019/20.

Fair jobs across the country

  • Government must use the employment bill to ban zero hours contracts – stamping out this exploitative practice once and for all.
  • Government should assess the success of its economic policy by:
    • Closed employment gaps across the country while keeping employment rising; and
    • Ensuring real wages are growing strongly for everyone.
  • Government can start tackling insecurity at work by:
    • banning zero-hours contracts
    • introducing a legal requirement for adequate notice of shifts and payment for cancelled shifts.
    • providing a decent floor of rights for all workers from day one.
  • Government should remove the five-week wait for the first payment of Universal Credit. The problems with the five-week wait policy are well-documented: it can lead to financial hardship for claimants, including debt poverty and a reliance on food banks
  • On a wider scale, Universal Credit itself should be stopped and scrapped.
  • Unions should be given the right to access workplaces to help spread collective bargaining – the most effective way to raise pay and working conditions for everyone.

A strong economy and a trade deal that supports jobs, rights and peace

  • Government must support the economy with a package of spending that invests in infrastructure and communities, spending at least an additional £25bn (over and above the £100bn infrastructure spending promised) over the next three years on a just transition to a low carbon economy. Fiscal rules designed for an era of austerity should not stop the government from investing in the public services the UK desperately needs.
  • Government must prioritise a trade deal with the EU that promotes UK industry and protects jobs, rights, peace in Northern Ireland and our public services.
  • Where industries face disruption, government must consult workers and business on how best to intervene to support jobs and livelihoods.

Download full report (pdf)

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