Sheffield union boss accuses Chancellor of 'pork barrel dole-outs' to Tory areas

A Sheffield union boss has launched a stinging attack on the Chancellor accusing him of ‘pork barrel dole-outs’ to Conservative constituencies.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 5:04 pm

Martin Mayer, Sheffield TUC secretary, criticised Town Deals payments to Tory areas - including £24.1m for Stocksbridge and £23.1m for Goldthorpe - ‘but nothing for the rest of Sheffield’.

And he branded it an ‘austerity budget’ which froze pay for NHS and other public sector workers and offered no new money to the NHS, the care sector, education, local authorities or the fire service.

And while Rishi Sunak bowed to pressure not to cut the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, it will go in September.

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Martin Mayer, Sheffield TUC secretary. Picture: Marie Caley

Mr Mayer added: “There’s to be no public investment in desperately-needed council homes, green energy, public transport, insulation or digital technology.

“Instead we must rely on a fantasy free-enterprise bonanza of investment, massively subsidised by the public purse with an eye-watering 130 per cent offset on taxable profits.”

But most concerning was the Government’s ‘total abdication of responsibility’ for a green recovery to create good jobs and address climate change.

He added: “We welcome the new investment bank in Leeds – actually an idea borrowed from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Manifesto in 2019 - but the Tory version lacks political direction and seems geared to promote private sector investment whether green or not.

“This Budget makes clear that the Tories’ post-Brexit vision for the UK is a deregulated free-enterprise utopia based on cheap low-cost labour and a further rolling-back of the public sector.

“That means declining real incomes for the many, increasing inequality and shameful levels of child poverty here in the fifth wealthiest country in the world. Trade unions and their members will have to stand up and fight every step of the way.”

The government issued a summary of Budget items relevant to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

It stated the furlough scheme will be extended to September and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will continue with a fourth and a fifth grant. Some £126m will enable 40,000 more traineeships and cash incentive to firms who take on an apprentice will be doubled to £3,000 per hire.

There was £5 billion for new Restart Grants – a one-off cash grant of up to £18,000 for hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses in England.

And a new Recovery Loan Scheme of between £25,001 and £10m, and asset and invoice finance between £1,000 and £10m, to help businesses of all sizes through the next stage of recovery.

Meanwhile, the business rates holiday in England has been extended by an additional three months and the temporary five per cent reduced rate of VAT for hospitality and leisure firms continues until September 30.

Beginning in April, the new super-deduction will cut companies’ tax bill by 25p for every pound they invest in new equipment.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said it was worth around £25 billion to UK companies over the two-year period it will be in full effect

He added: “Through this Budget, we will continue to stand by workers and businesses as we have done throughout the pandemic – supporting millions of jobs and livelihoods across the United Kingdom.

“Recognising the critical role our innovators and wealth creators will play in driving our economic recovery, the government has also unveiled a raft of measures to stimulate private investment, including a radical new super-deduction to cut companies’ tax bills if they invest in Britain’s future.

“As we look forward with optimism to easing restrictions and carefully reopening our economy, we are investing in the people, the businesses, and the innovative, climate friendly projects that will strengthen our Union, create new jobs and ensure we can build back better, greener and stronger from the pandemic.”

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.