On Wednesday 22 November, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will deliver his Autumn Statement alongside the latest economic forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). Ahead of this budget, we’ve outlined some of the changes and interventions we want to see from this government to support workers and businesses up and down the country.
Whilst the recent backdrop shows inflation falling and borrowing on course to be £20bn lower than predicted, the economic situation faced by most people remains incredibly challenging. Cost of living for working people has continued to rise compared with previous months, retail sales volumes are now at their lowest levels since covid restrictions were in place, and all signposts point to household energy prices rising even further in the new year as current geopolitical instability continues.
We urge the Chancellor to focus any interventions where they will have the most impact: supporting working households facing a cost-of-living crisis that has in no way ended and making key investments to support industry and businesses embracing technological change and our transition to a Net Zero economy.
Support Britain’s steel industry
Steel is an industry of critical importance to our economy and national security, vital for building and protecting the country we all know today. However, the industry is under threat from decarbonisation on the cheap, rising energy prices and dirty imports.
To support our industry, the government needs to:
- Announce a UK Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism to come into force by 2026, in line with EU policy and preventing the UK from becoming a dumping ground for diverted trade.
- Address the disproportionate costs UK producers pay for energy and production, by matching the support schemes for renewable energy and network costs provided by competitor EU countries like Germany.
- Support a just transition for the industry, with all technological options on the table, which promotes decarbonisation whilst protecting jobs and the communities that steel supports.
Recognition of the self-employed
Self-employed workers are a vital part of our economy – driving growth in cities, towns, and villages across the UK. But self-employed workers have been among the worst hit by years of economic turmoil, with their earnings stagnant over the last decade.
The government needs to:
- Take action to end the scourge of late-payments and ensure big business pay small traders within 60 days.
- Create a safety net for the self-employed including access to sick pay, paternity pay, adoption pay and shared parental leave, and enable the self-employed to better save for retirement.
- Match employees’ entitlements to sick pay, maternity pay, paternity pay, parental leave, adoption leave, and jobseeker’s allowance
- Give the self-employed the same rights as employees on health and safety, discrimination and whistleblowing
- Offer free training courses, make all training tax deductible and pilot a training bursary for the self-employed
- Create a government champion for the self-employed.
You can read the full list of policy asks we’re calling for in our Manifesto for the Self-Employed.
Address the cost-of-living crisis
The ongoing cost-of-living crisis continues to impact small businesses and households across the country, with prices for essential goods still incredibly high the cost of energy still a real concern for many each month.
The government needs to:
- Ensure low-income households are supported with the cost of energy and household bills, higher mortgage repayments, and expensive everyday essentials.
- Support for small and medium-sized businesses who are still facing a real challenge to afford the high cost of energy bills, meet payroll for their employees, and ensure survival for their business during a period of reducing demand.
More funding for the education and early years sector
This budget is an opportunity for the Government to build on its pledges from the Spring Budget, supporting the sector to meet the demand created by its expansion. Rather than being the ‘completion of a landmark reform’ as described by the Chancellor in March, we believe the Government should treat this expansion as the first step in a longer-term programme of reform.
What we’d like to see:
- Increase the hourly funding rate for all three and four-year-olds, ensuring it’s indexed to inflation and rising costs.
- Increase funding for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and simplify the funding application process.
- Bring the early years pupil premium in line with the primary pupil premium.
You can read our full response to the budget following the Chancellor’s statement on Wednesday.
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