‘Disgraceful’: Unions react to the autumn statement

'The chancellor has decided to double down on the Conservatives' recipe for recession, ushering in a new era of austerity in public services.'

Jeremy Hunt

On November 17, the chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivered his autumn statement. As expected, Hunt announced a barrage of public spending cuts and tax rises, including extending the freeze on Income Tax thresholds, meaning millions will pay more. The chancellor also announced the UK is now in recession.

Reaction to the long-awaited statement immediately flooded in. Labour labelled it an “invoice for the economic carnage” of the mini budget.

‘More of the same’

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves told the Commons: “What does the chancellor have to offer today? More of the same, with working people paying the price for his failure.

“The chancellor should have come here today to ask for forgiveness, at the very least he could have offered an apology, but no.

“Instead, he says that his predecessor was correct in his analysis at the mini-budget, the mini-budget that put our economy into freefall.

“All the country got today was an invoice for the economic carnage that this government has created.

“Never again can the Conservatives be seen as the party of economic competence.”

With working people set to pay the price for Tory government failings, unions have been sharing their contempt towards the autumn statement.

‘Disgraceful’

GMB Union, whose members work in diverse industries, including retail and industrial sectors, described the fiscal statement as ‘disgraceful’ and that it ‘sticks two fingers up at workers.’

“The Tories have crashed the economy but it’s working people who are paying the bill,” said Gary Smith, GMB general secretary.

“The chancellor has decided to double down on the Conservatives’ recipe for recession, ushering in a new era of austerity in public services.

“NHS workers from nurses and porters to paramedics, who put their lives on the line during the pandemic, are being thanked with yet another big real terms pay cut.

“Meanwhile he’s ducked the big decisions on defence and hydrogen spending and long-term investment is being slashed – stagnation is here to stay with this government.

“Even the Minimum Wage is being cut in real terms – it’s clear the government no longer believes in clapping key workers and prefers to stick two-fingers up instead.

“This disgraceful Tory government is out of ideas, out of time, and should be out of office,” Smith continued.

Following Hunt’s statement, the Trades Union Congress tweeted:

“This is a government that’s decimated growth and living standards. This is a government more interested in rewarding wealth than work. This is a government choosing to hold down the wages of nurses and teachers while allowing bankers unlimited bonuses. General election now.

Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, shared similar contempt, saying:

“Our economy is broken. This autumn statement is not for working people. The chancellor Jeremy Hunt, has taxed income over wealth, backed city bankers instead of nurses and chosen profiteers over public services. He has made political choices based on rules that he himself has the power to change.”

On the day the autumn statement was announced, Unison published an article citing the failings of 12 years of Tory austerity. It notes how twelve years of the Tory ‘experiment’ of austerity have not only seen sluggish growth and damaged public services.

“Choosing to go down this route again only begs the question – who is this government really working for? These aren’t the choices of a government on the side of working people, nor is it a government on the side of public services. But UNISON is still fighting for our members and the public services they provide,” says the union.

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

Picture credit: YouTube screen grab

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