The chancellor has been accused of “complacency” after this week’s Spring Statement, as he celebrated “marginal” improvements in the economy while ignoring the current issues in funding for the NHS, social care and councils.
In his address to parliament Philip Hammond promised that, after year of austerity, there was “light at the end of the tunnel” for the UK’s economy. However, the levels of growth he announced is the lowest of any of the G7 nations. The new forecast for GDP growth of 1.5% or below for the next five years is also the lowest since the Second World War, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.
The shadow chancellor John McDonnell accused Hammond of “complacency” while attacking the Tory policy of austerity. He said:
We face – in every public service – a crisis on a scale we’ve never seen before.
People know now that austerity was a political choice – not an economic necessity.
The Conservatives chose to cut taxes for the super-rich, the corporations and the bankers. And it was paid for by the rest of us in society.
We were never all in this together as they claimed – never.
His thoughts were echoed somewhat by UNISON, the public service union who represent more than 1.3 million public sector workers.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:
The Chancellor might have promised a brighter tomorrow, but the country’s beleaguered public services remain in a dark place today.
He paints a picture a world away from the everyday experiences of ordinary families, and our cash-strapped NHS, schools and community services.
The one ray of hope for public services was the heavy hint that the Treasury will fund an NHS pay rise, should employers and health unions be able to reach agreement.