Belfast Telegraph

TUC boss: UK is set for annus horribilis

A SENIOR union leader has predicted that 2011 is going to be a "horrible" year, with cuts in benefits and public services and an increase in unemployment.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber warned that thousands of public sector workers faced redundancy, cuts in services caused by the Government's austerity measures will make a "real impact", and voluntary groups will have their funding cut.

In his new year message, Mr Barber said: "It's hard to pick out the unkindest cut of all, but a top contender must be the 10% cut in housing benefit that kicks in after someone has been unemployed for more than a year."

The TUC leader warned that the Government could also have a horrible year, predicting growing anger about increased student tuition fees and cutbacks in public sector projects such as new schools.

"What is becoming clear to people is just how unfair the coalition's policies are. Those who did least to cause the crash are being made to take the nastiest medicine with the worst side-effects.

"Spending cuts inevitably hit those on low and middle incomes, while taxes, such as a Robin Hood Tax and real efforts to deal with tax avoidance, can be targeted on those who can afford to pay.

"Yet even the modest tax contribution chosen by the coalition is VAT - the unfairest tax of all. The British people are never that interested in politics, but we do have a deep sense of fairness that goes across traditional party lines.

"As none of these policies were put to voters before the election, this could well be the year that the country starts to say no to government in a way that they have not since middle Britain made a previous Conservative government abolish the poll tax."

Mr Barber spoke out following warnings that unemployment in the UK could increase to 2.7m.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said the jobless rate will reach 9% in 2011, with public sector employment set to fall by 120,000 and private sector jobs cut by 80,000.

The group forecast that the number of people in work will fall by 200,000 next year.

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