Chancellor Osborne’s message to the working class in his Autumn Statement was that the crisis is worsening fast, and you will have to pay for it!
Osborne announced a two-year one per cent public sector pay cap, to follow the two year wage freeze, claiming there has to be ‘further restraint on public sector pay’.
He spoke of the ‘chilling effects of current instability’.
The ‘infrastructure projects’ he announced were to be paid out of ‘pension pots’ and benefit cuts.
Osborne announced a freeze in working tax credits and a £40 billion ‘Loan Guarantee Scheme’ under which businesses considered by banks too risky to lend to, would be provided with government-backed loans.
He announced a dramatic acceleration in the increase in the state pension age to 67, ten years early, in 2026.
Osborne admitted the government is now set to borrow £111 billion more than planned over the next five years.
He announced that he would ‘change’ TUPE regulations, which govern the rights of workers whose jobs are privatised.
He said there would be new ‘no fault’ dismissal arrangements, changes in ‘restrictive’ health and safety regulations and an end to companies being ‘sued out of existence by employment tribunals’.
He said: ‘We will use mortgage indemnities to help 100,000 families to buy a home.’
And describing ‘a new right to buy’ scheme he said ‘families in social housing’ will be able to buy ‘at a discount of up to 50 per cent’.’
He confirmed that because of the ‘debt storm’ raging across Europe, borrowing is now expected to hit £79 billion in 2014-15 – more than double the £37 billion which he had previously forecast and more than the £74 billion predicted by the former Labour chancellor Darling.
Osborne confirmed that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has downgraded growth to 0.9 per cent for 2011 and 0.7 per cent for 2012 – well under the 1.7 per cent and 2.5 per cent forecasts it made in March.
Presaging the coalition’s intended abolition of national pay rates, Osborne announced that next July he wants a report on making wages ‘more responsive to local labour markets’.
He also announced a ‘youth contract’ of ‘private sector work experience’ and warned that ‘young people who don’t engage’ will be removed from benefits.
And there will be 100 new so-called ‘Free Schools’.
He declared that unemployment is set to increase from 8.1 per cent to 8.7 per cent next year – from 2.6 million to 2.8 million by the end of next year.
Osborne said: ‘Much of Europe now appears to be heading into a recession caused by a chronic lack of confidence in the ability of countries to deal with their debts.’
He said, ‘We are now undertaking extensive contingency planning to deal with all potential outcomes of the eurocrisis.
Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary, commented: ‘A bad situation will only be made worse by imposing a £3.6 billion tax on public sector pensions, by holding down public sector pay, and by throwing hundreds of thousands of public service workers onto the dole.’
Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘Attacking pay and employment rights whilst allowing the banks off so lightly will damage growth and do nothing to tackle youth unemployment.’