Chancellor’s statement offers little for those fed up with losing out, says Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey

Chancellor Philip Hammond has failed to throw a lifeline to those on low wages or to demonstrate that this government will lay the solid economic foundations needed for a successful Brexit, Unite general secretary, Len McCluksey, said today (Wednesday 23 November).

Commenting on the autumn statement Len McCluskey said: “Today’s timid statement promised only the deepening economic shock of never-ending austerity, and gave little indication that the government is up to laying the solid base necessary to meet the enormous challenge of Brexit.

“What is clear is that the Conservative party owes the UK people a huge apology.  With debt set to soar, yet more promised targets missed and living standards still dropping, the truth is that Tory policies were a massive fraud.  Six years of pain for the poorest, six years of sustained assault on our public services – and with more to come – have taken our economy and country backwards.

“Against that backdrop, and with Brexit looming, why then is the government’s economic plan is simply to continue with the very policies that have weakened our economy?”

Addressing the statement’s failure to deliver on investment at the level the economy needs, Len McCluskey said:

“As business investment further dries up, we needed boldness from government on a scale that shows it is committed to re-shaping the economy. 

“Instead we have disjointed announcements. The £23 billion promised for the productivity investment fund will have to work extremely hard to make amends for years of Tory economic vandalism. 

“Nervous manufacturers will regard the £2 billion for research and development as ‘thin gruel’ when the country faces desperate skills’ shortages in vital industries. 

“The promised industrial strategy needs to do so much more – and without delay – to put this economy on the front foot for life outside of the European Union.”

 On support for the `just about managing’, Len McCluskey added:

“There was little in the chancellor’s statement to indicate that the Conservatives truly heard the message of 23 June, which is that people are fed up with losing out.

“Once again a Conservative government had to be shamed into action over planned cuts to incomes, but the pennies on the Tory ‘living wage’ still leave it far short of the actual living wage needed for people to meet the growing costs of living in this country. Low waged families will still lose thousands of pounds a year.

“Continuing to target cuts at the lowest incomes and our vital public services such as the NHS are cruel, senseless and drain growth from communities.

“From a government promising billions for a corporation tax give away to big business, this is also downright immoral.”