Unions representing public sector workers have reacted angrily to today’s Spring Budget, with Unite calling it a “budget of betrayal”.
Today’s budget announcement included major reforms to childcare support and the abolition of the lifetime limit on tax-free pensions savings, but no mention of support for public services or those who work for them.
Around 100,000 civil servants who are members of the Public and Commercial Services union are on strike today (15 March) in a continuing dispute over pay, jobs and conditions. They represent workers from 124 government departments.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Today the chancellor had a chance to save the National Health Service – starting by paying NHS workers their dues. Instead, he made the wrong choices and delivered a historic betrayal where there wasn’t a penny for the NHS pay in the budget.
“So while Jeremy Hunt rearranges the deck chairs for corporate Britain, workers in the real economy face a crisis,” she said.
“This Budget does next to nothing to address the historic cost of living crisis hitting workers throughout our broken economy. Since 2010, real wages have fallen by 15% and that’s going to get worse.”
Graham added that the ‘Budget for Growth’, as chancellor Jeremy Hunt called it, represented “tax cuts for the rich and powerful and little reward for workers”.
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said the Budget had “more holes than on most public highways”, referring to a £200 million pledge included in today’s announcement to fix potholes.
She said: “It’s funny how the chancellor can lay his hands on billions when he wants. Ministers have sounded like a broken record, insisting the country can’t afford to pay key workers more.
“Yet, in a flourish, there’s cash for another fuel duty freeze, tax cuts for those who need them least, and no action to curb the mega-profits of the oil and gas giants. But not a dickie bird on public sector pay.”
“It’s meant to be a budget for growth, but allowing public services to wither away and failing to invest in the workers tirelessly delivering them will come back to haunt the government. Economies can’t thrive with weak public services,” she added.
There are more holes in this budget than on most public highways.” – Christine McAnea, Unison
Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect union, was disappointed the chancellor had “nothing to offer [civil servants] on their pay or conditions – let alone mentioning them in his speech”.
He said: “With pay already having fallen by up to 26% since 2010, our members simply cannot afford to see their living standards fall any further. Increases of just 1% in day-to-day departmental spending after 2024/25 show the government still doesn’t get it.
“The threats of job cuts, slashing of redundancy terms and appalling attacks on their work by cabinet ministers must stop, and the Cabinet Office must come to the table and give our committed public servants the pay rise they deserve.
“Without fundamental change, the civil service risks becoming an increasingly unattractive and uncompetitive employer, with the whole country suffering the consequences.”
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