VOICE EXTRA: Rishi Sunak’s menu – old wine in new bottles

MINI-BUDGET: while any investment aimed at the climate is welcome, Sunak's £3billion is fraction of what is urgently needed to develop real jobs and a climate crisis response

by Ken Ferguson

· Chancellor Sunak’s mini-budget uses smart spin about cheap meals for diners—at a time when tens of thousands rely on food banks—to dress up what is largely reheated soup and repackaged spending.

The much hyped kick start scheme revisits ideas from the ’80s such as YTS and will pay a wage not half that of the already inadequate “living wage” and runs the risk of simply massaging jobless figures.

The £2billion cost of it simply moves money which would otherwise be allocated to Universal Credit.

It’s likely impact will be to create short term exploitative jobs on poor pay.

While any investment aimed at the climate is welcome, Sunak’s £3billion is fraction of what is urgently needed to develop a real jobs- and climate crisis-response.

This should include tooling up both Scottish and UK industry to develop build and install the equipment from wind turbines to eco-friendly buses and trains which can both create long term, skilled, well paid jobs and respond to the climate emergency.

Perhaps his most glaring omission was the total failure to lift a finger on the rented housing crisis rather confining himself to tinkering with stamp duty in England and Northern Ireland.

A Martian looking at our housing crisis would conclude that the answer would be to build thousands of council homes both to meet the crisis level demand for them and create thousands of jobs and apprenticeships

As Roz Foyer, General Secretary of the STUC stated: “We have lobbied hard for a large-scale capital investment, a Job Guarantee programme and for the extension of the furlough scheme. The Chancellor’s response lacks ambition and fails to guarantee decent work.

“Rishi Sunak talks about the ‘nobility of work’, what we need to see is a focus on the nobility and value of quality, decent and fair work. Less bonuses for bosses, more adequate wages, good terms and conditions and collective bargaining for workers.”

Cliff edge
We are on the cliff edge of a major economic and jobs crisis coping with the continuing fall out of the Covid pandemic which is far from over and should be the reason to drive towards a different normal rather than a scrabble to prop up the poverty pay insecure work pre-virus model.

Millions of people have stood in solidarity with our essential NHS, Care, delivery, shop and other workers—many on poverty pay—who were hailed as heroes and applauded week after week but who go unremarked as far as a pay rise by the Chancellor.

And of course probably the biggest revelation to us all in the crisis was the fact that far from there not being a “magic money tree” there is no barrier to finding billions to meet aspects of the crisis the only obstacle is the political will to do so.

That’s why the Voice and the SSP are putting a range of policy options on the table which recognises that change was essential before the virus and is even more essential now.

At the heart of such change must be meeting the needs of Scotland’s people—in particular our working class majority and the needs of the planet we all live on.

As the struggle against the virus continues debate is joined about the future and the Scottish Socialist Party firmly asserts that a return to the pre-lockdown world cannot be the answer.

Change to a different normal is essential both for the people of Scotland, particularly the working class majority, and the future survival of our increasingly imperilled planet.

These policies offers early steps towards a Socialist Green New Deal as part of a Just Transition to a new Scotland which rebuilds productive capacity and creates skilled well paid jobs in working class communities currently deserted by footloose globalised business.

Winning such a change will involve taking on some of the most wealthy and powerful elites and their political backers and the purpose of the programme we set out here is to arm the widest possible range of forces to achieve that change.

8 IMMEDIATE ACTION POINTS

• A minimum wage of £12-an-hour to combat poverty and boost purchasing power
• A four day working week without loss of pay. End insecure work.
• Immediate action to de-carbonise Scotland and create 150,00 jobs as part of a Just Transition to a green economy putting people before profit
• Scrap anti union laws to ensure fairness at work and the fullest possible workers involvement in the urgent change needed
• Build 100,000 publicly owned homes for rent to tackle the housing crisis and create jobs. Retrofit existing homes to 21st century standards
• Public ownership of Scotland’s energy resources including wind, wave, hydro, gas and oil. Create jobs combat fuel poverty
• A National Care Service free at the point of use, publicly owned and staffed by trained, skilled, well-paid staff
• Public ownership of railways and buses to combat social exclusion and open way to free public transport

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