Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said in response to the Budget:
“Under the Tories our economy isn’t growing, but the dole queues are. The government’s own Office of Budget Responsibility has downgraded the growth forecast by 0.9% since the chancellor’s last budget. The carnage going on in the public sector was completely written out of the chancellor’s budget.
“Osborne should have used this budget to right his economic wrongs. This no budge budget flies in the face of mounting evidence of the toll Tory cuts are taking on our economy and our society. The chancellor is pinning his hopes on the private sector driving the recovery – but the evidence shows the private sector is not creating enough jobs to stop total unemployment from rising.
“Struggling families will be pleased that tax receipts have been used to stop fuel price rises. But with dole queues rising, and business and consumer confidence low, this is a warning to Osborne – he will not be able to rely on tax receipts to top up spending much longer.
“Osborne’s over-hyped increase in tax allowances will in fact be worth less than £2.50 a week to the average basic rate taxpayer. This is more than cancelled out by the increase in VAT, which will cost the average family more than £3 a week, and other reductions in benefits, tax credits and services, which will cost families even more.
“This small tax giveaway will do nothing to help the 2.53 million people on the dole and struggling to find work. It is a drop in the ocean for millions of public sector workers hit by pay freezes. With inflation up to 5.5%, any benefit will swiftly be wiped out by higher prices.
“The Learjet levy is a token gesture. The mega-rich who can afford a private plane could pay a lot more towards our recovery. Instead, public sector workers are cutting back on food, vital healthcare such as dentists and prescriptions, and are still racking up high levels of personal debt. The poor, sick and vulnerable who did not gamble away our future are paying the price, as the public services they rely on disappear.”