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RISHI SUNAK’S Budget was branded a failure for working people today by unions and opposition leaders.
For all the Chancellor’s boasting about his “fiscal firepower” and doing “whatever it takes,” he stood accused of doing too little, too late, other than for his big business allies — and made it clear that the long-term pain was to be borne by working people.
Mr Sunak announced the short-term extension of the furlough and self-employed support schemes and the £20 universal credit uplift, but there was no public-sector pay rise, no rescue plan for health and social care, no cash for social housing and no recognition of the need for government investment in jobs.
And he tried to spin a hidden income-tax increase — achieved by freezing tax thresholds from next year until 2026 — as generous.
His one genuine long-term giveaway was “the biggest business tax cut in modern UK history” — a 130 per cent “super-deduction” from corporation tax as a bribe for businesses to invest.
And although he announced an increase in corporation tax in two years’ time, the new rate will still be lower than in any other major capitalist country.
He also boasted that only 10 per cent of businesses would pay the full 25 per cent rate.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the government of papering over the cracks created by its own disastrous decisions.
He said: “After the decisions of the last year and the decade of neglect, we needed a Budget to fix the foundations of our economy, to reward our key workers, to protect the NHS and to build a more secure and prosperous economy for the future.
“The central problem in our economy is a deep-rooted insecurity and inequality and this Budget isn’t the answer to that. The Chancellor barely mentioned inequality — let alone tried to address it.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady accused the Chancellor of “gambling with the recovery” when he should have acted to create jobs.
She said: “The Chancellor is making a dangerous bet on the economy bouncing back on its own.
“And after a year of key workers going above and beyond, it’s an insult that the Chancellor announced no new support for our hard-pressed NHS or public services and no guarantee of a decent pay rise for all our public-sector key workers.”
PCS union general secretary Mark Serwotka said that Mr Sunak had “failed to vaccinate the economy from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
He said: “It is clear the government will not listen to public-sector workers on pay — and therefore a united trade union movement must be prepared to take action together in order for our members to see pay justice.”
Unison leader Chrstina McAnea said that workers at the heart of the pandemic would be more concerned with what the Chancellor did not announce.
“There was no extra money for a social care system on its knees,” she said.
“No funding lifeline for councils struggling to provide services holding communities together.
“No mention of cash to raise the morale of exhausted NHS workers and grant the pay rise they’ve more than earned.
“Nothing for key workers who’ve given their all, not a single helping. The government has an odd way of saying thanks.”
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “The government has said that schools are a ‘national priority,’ yet this Budget has provided schools with no new resources to manage coronavirus.”
The Communist Party said the Budget was “for the profits of the few rather than the wellbeing of the many,” and contrasted a 21p increase in the minimum wage and a temporary boost to universal credit with £65 billion in support for businesses.
“Only a planned socialist economy would have prioritised the production of hospital beds, medical equipment, drugs and communication networks to protect the people over huge public subsidies to protect corporate profits,” the party said.
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