Budget must focus on jobs and green industries, says TUC
One of Britain's largest trade unions has called on chancellor Alistair Darling to invest £25 billion in public spending to kick start the job market and encourage economic growth.
The TUC said in its budget submission, published today, that a fiscal stimulus package based on green industries and safeguarding jobs was needed to tackle unemployment, which is now increasing at twice the European rate.
The package the union proposed included £16.8 billion for green industries, £6 billion for social housing projects and £1.2 billion for a short-term working subsidy scheme to help people struggling to find work during the financial crisis. It added the price of inaction by the government would be unemployment and hardship for years to come.
General secretary of the TUC Brendan Barber said: "On international comparisons the UK fiscal stimulus package has not been that generous.
"There is still scope for a carefully targeted second round that can promote a quicker recovery, help companies take full advantage when our economy is back on track and ensure that we are doing enough to counter climate change."
The fiscal stimulus package he put forward would bring Britain into line with the average stimulus for advanced economies proposed by the International Monetary Fund at 3.25 per cent, double its current rate.
This would also include £5 billion towards basic insulation for the ten million homes which currently do no have any, creating 20,000 jobs in the process. TUC would also like to see a £3 billion support package for renewable businesses that are failing in the current climate, and £3.5 billion for the tax credit system to help families and keep the government on target to eradicate child poverty by 2010.
The union, which has more than six and a half million members, suggested job seeker's allowance should be increased from £60.15 per week to £75.15 as people receiving these payments would have little choice but to spend the money and stimulate the economy.
Mr Barber added: "Ministers did well at the G20 summit, and the decisions there should ensure the global slowdown is shorter and shallower.
"But this now needs following up with the right domestic policies to minimise the grim impact the recession is already having and ensure that the UK is ready to make the most of even a shallow global recovery."
The chancellor Alistair Darling will present the budget to the House of Commons on April 22nd.