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TUC budget submission: Invest in Britain’s future by upgrading the economy and boosting pay

The TUC is today (Sunday) publishing its budget submission, which calls on the Chancellor to invest in a major upgrade of the UK economy.

The submission warns that the UK is ill-prepared for life outside the EU. Public services are suffering from underinvestment. The UK economy is growing slower than our major competitors. Real wages are still below their level before the financial crisis. And workplaces lack investment, training, and proper enforcement of employment rights.

To get Britain fit for a prosperous future, the TUC is calling for the Chancellor to:

  • Invest in our public services and public servants

The Treasury must fund real public sector pay increases, and give public services a new financial settlement with real-term increases.

  • End the living standards squeeze and give Britain a pay rise

The minimum wage should increase to £10 per hour as quickly as possible, including for workers aged 21 to 24. Cuts to Universal Credit should be reversed. And unions should have stronger rights to enter workplaces, so they can help more workers benefit from collective wage bargaining.

  • Upgrade the UK’s economic model to deliver better growth

Public infrastructure investment must rise from 2.7% GDP to the OECD average of 3.5% GDP. Funds must go to housing, transport, science and R&D. And the industrial strategy white paper (expected early next week) must put the workforce at its heart and provide a framework for government, business and unions to work together.

  • Set out a plan to get workplaces fit for the future

The budget should set aside new funding for improved enforcement of workers’ rights, and refunding of tribunal fees. Working parents need paid paternity leave, and expanded paternity pay. And investment in training for workers should be increased to the EU average within the next five years.

On action needed in the budget, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Years of cuts, low public investment, and rising job insecurity have taken a heavy toll. Wages are falling, public services are stretched to breaking point, and don’t have the modern infrastructure needed to compete in the world.

“The budget must be used to invest in a better future for Britain’s workers. The Chancellor must put more funding into housing, transport, science and technology. And he must set out plans to improve the quality of jobs and the rights of workers.

“Britain still needs a pay rise – and the budget must deliver it. Public sector workers must have their first proper pay rise in eight years. The minimum wage must go up to £10 an hour as quickly as possible. And the government must strengthen the rights of all working people to win fairer, higher wages through collective bargaining in trade unions.”

On the soon-to-be published industrial strategy white paper, she added:

“Britain’s economy has underperformed for decades because we haven’t had a proper industrial strategy. With the challenges of Brexit ahead, we have to get it right. And we have to properly fund it.

“It must be far-sighted, looking decades ahead, and putting long-term national prosperity ahead of short-term private profits. It must reach every part of the UK, ending regional inequalities and creating great jobs in every community. And it must empower working people to shape their job, their career and their local economy.

“There must be funding for people to learn and train throughout their working life – especially if their job is at risk from automation or the move to a cleaner, greener economy. And it must set out a framework for government, business and unions to work together on the long-term decisions needed for the UK’s future prosperity.”

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