The Communist Party has condemned what it calls Chancellor Philip Hammond’s ‘steady as the economy sinks’ Autumn Budget.
CP general secretary Robert Griffiths said it reflected Tory priorities to ‘fill the boots of private enterprise with public money’ and shore up big business profits.
As real wages, benefits and living standards fall over the next four years and the British economy heads towards recession, he remarked, the Chancellor continues with planned cuts in corporate taxes and does nothing about tax-dodging havens under British jurisdiction around the world.
‘We need the trade unions to launch a coordinated wages offensive to smash the public sector pay cap, raise incomes across every sector and help stave off the impending downturn’, he urged.
Mr Griffiths dismissed Hammond’s plans to pump an extra £15bn into the housing market over the next five years as an ‘anti-solution’ to Britain’s housing crisis.
‘Stamp Duty and Help-to-Buy gimmicks inflate house prices and boost the shares of property and development companies’, he argued, insisting that the only practical option was to lift the cap on local government house-building.
The CP general secretary also warned that the extended squeeze on public spending takes no account of any ‘exorbitant’ EU divorce bill.
‘The Office for Budget Responsibility’s economic and fiscal outlook report confirms that the Chancellor’s austerity figures make no allowance for “any one-off or ongoing EU exit-related payments”‘, Mr Griffiths pointed out.
‘Unless we resist EU ransom demands and get rid of this government, there will be further cuts in public sector wages, benefits and services’, he added.
In particular, the CP leader attacked the City of London’s financial sector for Britain’s low levels of investment in productive industry and demanded measures to direct private and public sector capital into manufacturing, construction and energy infrastructure. He demanded that the benefits of more investment, new technology and higher productivity must be used to improve people’s work-life balance and living standards, not to ‘feed the City and bg business fat cats’.
Mr Griffiths also attacked the proposal revealed in OBR documents to sell off the state’s remaining shareholding in the Royal Bank of Scotland at an overall loss to the public purse of £26.2bn.