Civil service unions urge Truss to rule out austerity drive

More spending cuts would be an "act of national vandalism", PCS, Prospect and FDA chiefs say
Whitehall data. Photo: Fotolia

By Jim Dunton

30 Sep 2022

Leaders of the civil service’s three biggest unions have called on new prime minister Liz Truss and chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng to rule out fresh spending cuts in the wake of global financial markets’ rection to last week’s mini-budget.

PCS, Prospect and the FDA boss are among 18 unionsthat have co-signed a letter with the Trades Union Congress imploring the pair not to embark on a new austerity drive.

“You promised in your leadership election campaign that there would be no reduction in public spending," the letter reads.

“But according to reports, another wave of crippling austerity could be on its way in November in order to fund tax cuts for the super-rich.

“This would be an act of national vandalism and a huge betrayal of the British people.”

Their call follows chief secretary to the Treasury Chris Philp’s revelation that he was asking departments to find new efficiencies over the coming weeks and that there would be no change to three-year settlements agreed last year, before inflation began to soar.

The leaders warn Truss that frontline services are “already at breaking point” after 12 years of cuts and must not be sacrificed to fund tax breaks for the nation’s highest earners – as Kwarteng’s mini-budget last week did.

“We therefore seek an urgent meeting with you and the chancellor, and a cast-iron assurance that you will not make further real-terms cuts to public services – now or in the future,” they write.

At a time when many public-sector unions are either balloting members about strike action over pay or gearing up for such a move, the letter conveys a sense that momentum is growing for a coordinated public-sector campaign.

“Unions will not sit by and allow the government to impoverish public services and the amazing staff who deliver them,” the leaders said.

They concluded: “We won’t allow the social fabric of this country to be destroyed.”

PCS opened its strike ballot in support of a 10% pay rise on Monday. Meanwhile, NHS staff who are members of the Royal College of Nursing will be balloted next month on their demand for an improvemet on this year's 3% offer.

The RCN is seeking an increase of 5% plus inflation as measured by the Retail Prices Index, which stood at 12.3% last month.

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