The North West TUC today questioned what steps the government was taking to tackle unemployment in the North West as unemployment rose across the region on the day George Osborne’s budget was announced.
Figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), show that unemployment in the North West increased by 22,000 despite a national fall in unemployment. Figures show that whilst the North West unemployment rate stands at 8.1%, it is much higher than the England average (7.2%) and the South East rate (5.2%). The North West TUC say that this is creating a divide in the UK and leaves some areas facing a much bigger challenge to get people back into work and sharing in any potential recovery.
Lynn Collins, NWTUC Regional Secretary, said, “Today’s figures tell us that more action is needed to tackle unemployment. There is a stubborn gap between ourselves and other parts of the country that needs bridging with investment is jobs, skills and wages. Today was an opportunity for the government to tell us how they intend to do that and instead we are left disappointed.”
As George Osborne took to the Despatch Box to deliver his Budget today, the North West TUC says many will have been left disappointed at what he had to say. They say the increasing number of those out of worker will be continually hit – by a lack of investment in creating jobs, a tightening cap on social security spending and when they do get back in to work, pay that fails to keep track with inflation.
“George Osborne told us this was a Budget if you are a maker, a doer or a saver. In reality, it offered little to those wanting to be a maker, doer or saver. People out of work across our region, often through no fault of their own, are not offered much by the Chancellor today. Instead of announcements about investment in jobs, they were told that the government intends to place a further cap on social security that many have paid into through national insurance over the years. Instead of the help and support at times of need, they are hit further.
When people do get back into work, they face a growing crisis in living standards as pay fails to keep rate with inflation meaning real terms pay cuts for many and difficult choices for families on sacrifices they make to be able to afford their home or feed themselves and their children. George Osborne thinks helping people save is the answer, with the rise in ISA limits to £15,000 per year, instead of helping the 160,000 workers in the North West who are paid the minimum wage and don’t even earn £15,000 in a year.”
The North West TUC says that today’s Budget announcement reinforces why pay must be tackled and they intend to raise this issue with action in the coming weeks as part of Fair Pay Fortnight, being held throughout the country.