Hammond’s Budget makes it clear: austerity isn’t over

Responding to today’s Budget, UNISON Eastern regional secretary Chris Jenkinson said: “For too long mental health has been a poor relation in the NHS, so this extra funding and new crisis services are welcome.

“But the fact remains that the extra £20bn for the NHS that Theresa May announced in June – and today’s pledge comes from that pot – is nowhere near enough to heal the wounds caused by eight years of Tory cuts to our health service.

“Many hospitals across the east of England are at breaking point and the NHS urgently needs more cash to keep it from keeling over while doing nothing to stop existing private finance initiatives sucking money out of our NHS.

“In our funding-starved schools, the Chancellor could offer only a one-off payment of £400m to buy ‘little extras they need’ – presumably he means the books and stationery that schools desperately need – after his government has snatched over £1bn from the education budget since 2015.

“We’re pleased that the government has finally woken up to the housing crisis gripping the country, pledging an extra £500m to build hundreds of thousands more houses. But after allowing house-building to reach the lowest levels since the 1920s, low-paid workers will still struggle to keep a roof over their heads.

“Hammond said this budget was “unashamedly” for hardworking people who want decent public services, repeatedly declaring austerity was coming to an end. But he’s done nothing to cancel the barrage of cuts still hardwired into our economy over the next few years.

“With sluggish growth and meagre pay rises after years of wages lagging behind inflation and cash injections that don’t even come close to making up the money lost since the Tories got the keys to No 10, it’s clear that austerity is not over, whatever the Chancellor says.”