The general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has described the Chancellor’s latest round of spending cuts as ‘toxic’.
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Speaking after the announcement of the Comprehensive Spending Review, in which George Osborne announced £11.5bn in cuts to government spending in 2015, Frances O’Grady said that the austerity measures could have a far-reaching impact on some on some of the most vulnerable members of society.
“This is a toxic mix of bad economics, nasty politics and dishonest presentation,” she said.
“The last thing our struggling economy needs is further cuts to spending to try to close a deficit made worse by the Chancellor’s earlier cuts. When the medicine is not working and side effects are choking the patient you need a change in treatment not more of the same.
The changes announced by the Chancellor as part of the Spending Review include a 10% cut to local authority budgets, and the end of automatic pay rises for those working in the civil service, the police, schools, hospitals and prisons.
“Many services will be hard hit. Worst of all is a new attack on some of the most vulnerable in our society through the seven day wait and other conditions for social security payments,” Ms O’Grady added.
“The Chancellor may think attacks on welfare go down well with voters, but these will lead to parents not having enough cash to feed their children.”
Under new welfare measures benefits claimants will have a seven-day wait before they can claim benefits, as opposed to the previous wait of three days, while foreign benefits claimants will have to undergo a language test to assess their level of English.
Mr Osborne said: “From now on, if claimants don’t speak English, they will have to attend language courses until they do.
“This is a reasonable requirement in this country. It will help people find work. But if you’re not prepared to learn English, your benefits will be cut.”