March 19th: In an initial response to Budget 2014, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said the measures announced today ‘leave Northern Ireland’s workers empty-handed’. Mr Kelly said that the continued focus on spending cuts rather than investment would hit Northern Ireland particularly hard, and he accused the Westminster Government of pursuing a tax cuts agenda which would benefit the better-off while leaving low and average earners struggling to look after their families.
“Today’s Budget does nothing to address the crisis in living standards which sees over one in every four Northern Ireland workers trying to survive on less than the Living Wage. Instead, the Westminster Government is pursuing a tax cuts agenda which will disproportionately benefit the better off. All the research shows that raising personal tax allowances will be of least benefit to those who need help most – but will be of great benefit to high earners.
“If the Government was serious about rewarding work, they would have substantially increased the Minimum Wage as proposed by Unite.
“The Tory/Lib-Dem government has slashed public investment by more than half since entering office. This is undermining our ability to create high-wage jobs. Osborne is driving Northern Ireland into a low-wage, low-road cul-de-sac while at the same time he is imposing a welfare spending cap.
“Budget 2014 again leaves Northern Ireland’s workers empty-handed”, Jimmy Kelly concluded.