‘Austerity is not over,’ says Unite

01 November 2018

In response to the chancellor’s budget speech, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey says there is still the ‘horror’ to come of billions of pounds slashed from public spending.


The chancellor Philip Hammond made his budget announcement on Monday (29 October) in which he said that ‘the era of austerity is finally coming to an end’ and he revealed a number of spending changes, including a rise in the national living wage and an increase the tax-free personal allowance.

However, Len said that what was proposed did not go far enough and that Mr Hammond could have used the budget to allay people’s ‘very real fears’ and ‘save families and their children from certain poverty’.

‘We need a government that will actually invest in decent homes, jobs, wages and public services, one that can create a hopeful vision for the UK after Brexit and where the chronic under-funding of our schools, hospitals and police will cease,’ Len added.

The NHS was covered in the announcement with the chancellor committing to an increase to the NHS budget by £20.5bn after inflation by 2023-24. Within this, the NHS will increase mental health spending by more than £2bn a year by 2023-24.

Mental Health Network chief executive Sean Duggan said: ‘The prospect of an additional £2bn of funding for mental health by 2023/24 is a welcome step on the journey towards true parity of esteem.’ 

But he added that the scale of the challenge the sector faces couldn’t be underestimated. 

‘It is positive to see that specialist crisis teams for children and younger people will be set up in every part of the country as we know how important it is to address mental illness as early as possible. 

‘However, we must keep our eyes on the immediate needs of our core inpatient and community mental health services, and we must also remember that social care, capital budgets and public health will need additional funding.’

A summary of the budget can be read here.

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