Failing to safeguard British industry

Today, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered the Autumn Spending Review.

This budget failed working people facing a cost of living crisis and offered nothing to safeguard the future of key industries in the British economy. 

Today the steel industry needed to see the Chancellor address the UK’s uncompetitive electricity prices and lay the groundwork for decarbonisation of UK steel production. 

Failing to act in the face of these challenges is putting thousands of vital jobs across the country on the line. 

The price of getting this wrong is not only a threat to thousands of well-paid jobs in areas that need them, but also the loss of a foundational industry that plays a vital role in supply chains and our entire economy. 

Whilst we welcome the minimum wage rise, this will be mostly blunted by the rise in inflation and rising cost of living. 

The government must back Labour’s plan to raise the minimum wage to £10 per hour, effective immediately.  

 This pandemic demonstrated that supporting people to stay home and recover when they are ill protects us all. However, self-isolation is not an option for self-employed people who do not get sick or holiday pay. With new Coronavirus cases averaging over 40,000 a day, it is a major missed opportunity not to extend sick pay to all, and one that risks the health and wellbeing of the public. 

Deborah Lawson, Assistant General Secretary with Community Union’s Voice Community education and early years section, said:

“It makes a refreshing change for the early years to be featured in a Budget or Spending Review, so we welcome the extra funding, training and support. It seems that the new Education Secretary may have some influence with the Treasury.

However, the funding to increase the hourly rate providers are paid to deliver the free childcare hours will not happen until 2024-25 – too late to help a sector in crisis now.

After decades of under-funding, the various funding measures announced will only go a little way in tackling the recruitment, retention and funding crises in the early years sector. Without a major investment to increase wages,  provide a proper career structure, and meet providers’ rising costs, existing staff will continue to leave for less skilled but higher paid work elsewhere, and settings will continue to struggle to attract new staff.

We also welcome the funding announced for education and skills, but this will not go far enough, especially in the light of the recommendations from former ‘recovery tsar’ Sir Kevan Collins and others.

Trying to turn the clock back to 2010 does not take into account the years of cuts and austerity and the ravages of the pandemic that have happened since then.  What is needed is a detailed, comprehensive and ambitious recovery plan, not back to the future economics.

The previously announced ending of the public sector pay freeze next year might seem like good news, but what any pay rises will actually be remains unknown, and depends on the parameters of the remit given to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) by the Government.

It is essential, with school budgets stretched to breaking point, that any pay increases must be properly funded by the Government.”

If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at or on 0800 389 6332.

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