the Tory-led government announced the cancellation of 12 funding projects worth £2 billion yesterday, as well as the suspension of a further 12 projects worth £8.5 billion.
Among the cuts was the cancellation of a loan to Sheffield Forgemasters, ignoring a plea from Britain’s biggest union, Unite, not to cut aid to the company.
TUC leader Brendan Barber described the massive cuts as ‘disappointing’ and warned that people will be thrown on the dole, while Unite Joint General Secretary Derek Simpson condemned the cuts as ‘appalling’.
In a statement in the House of Commons, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: ‘Mr Speaker, with your permission I would like to make a statement on the Treasury’s review of the public spending commitments made by the last Government between 1st January 2010 and the General Election.
‘In the review we examined the £34 billion of spending that was approved in their final few months of office.
‘The aim was to test in each and every case, whether these commitments are affordable, whether they deliver value for money, and whether they remain genuine priorities for this Government.
‘This review is now complete. My decisions on these commitments fall into three categories:
‘1. Projects where spending will be approved because they are a high priority or because the money has largely been spent;
‘2. Projects that will be cancelled;
‘3. Projects whose long-term affordability will be considered as part of the wider Spending Review process over the coming weeks and months.’
The projects cancelled yesterday are: Stonehenge Visitor Centre: £25m; Local Authority Leader Boards: £16m; Sheffield Forgemasters International Limited: £80m; Rollout of the Future Jobs Fund: £290m; Six month offer recruitment subsidies: £30m; Extension of Young Person’s Guarantee to 2011/12: £450m; Two year Jobseeker’s Guarantee: £515m; Active Challenge Routes – Walk England: £2m; County Sports Partnerships: £6m; North Tees and Hartlepool hospital: £450m; Local Authority Business Growth Initiative: £50m; ‘Outukumpu’: £13m.
TUC General Secretary Barber said: ‘This announcement appears to go against everything the Government has said about its cuts programme.
‘Cutting a further £2 billion from public contracts with the private sector will shrink the economy, not stimulate private sector growth. It will not help rebalance the economy away from finance either.
‘Ending funding for job guarantees will throw people on the dole and goes against a desire to be fair.
‘Particularly disappointing is the decision to cancel the loan to Sheffield Forgemasters to build components for nuclear power stations, as it not only damages manufacturing but also threatens energy security and the transition to a low carbon economy.’
Unite Joint General Secretary Simpson said: ‘It is short-sighted and will leave Britain’s manufacturing sector trailing behind its competitors.
‘This is an appalling decision because it denies UK manufacturing the opportunity to become a supplier on a global scale.
‘Every other country in Europe sees the value in supporting its industries and jobs.
‘There is only one other manufacturer in the world which builds the forgings that Sheffield Forgemasters produces.
‘This is a kick in the teeth to the community in Sheffield.
‘During the election campaign Nick Clegg was keen to vow extra support to areas like Sheffield, but now the ConDems have turned their backs on this local business.
‘We are urging the Treasury to reconsider this decision if it wants to nurture Britain’s skilled manufacturing base.’