United Kingdom to freeze most public sector wages and decrease foreign aid

Andrew Cummings
November 26, 2020

GMB national officer Rehana Azam said: "This attempt to divide and rule will put [the Chancellor] on a direct collision course with public-service workers".

The cut to the aid budget sees the Government reneging on a legal pledge and manifesto commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on development assistance.

In his spending review, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that nurses, doctors and other NHS workers will get a pay rise next year.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said it was "shameful and wrong" while Conservative former global development secretary Andrew Mitchell said it would be "the cause of 100,000 preventable deaths, mainly among children".

Wales has been betrayed on post European Union funding in a Spending Review that does not support a fair recovery across the UK."Mr Sunak's announcement on the review for spending across the UK included a freeze on public sector pay apart from NHS workers and the lowest paid".

Baroness Sugg, a former aide to Mr Cameron, quit as sustainable development minister, branding the decision "fundamentally wrong".

Xavier Brice, CEO of Sustrans, said there is a "wider concerning disconnect" between the Government's aims and ambitions and the policies it is putting in place.

Recent official data shows United Kingdom state debt has exceeded 2.0 trillion pounds for the first time - and the government is set to have borrowed 394 billion pounds in 2020, taking total borrowing above 100 per cent of GDP.

The "long-term scarring" from the crisis means that in 2025 the economy will still be around 3% smaller than had been expected in March this year, Mr Sunak told MPs.

But Mr Sunak insisted that "at a time of unprecedented crisis government must make tough choices" and promised that spending would return to 0.7% "when the fiscal situation allows".

A three-year program worth almost £3 billion will be established to help the long-term unemployed back into work. Funding for cycling and walking was £300 million in 2020/21, meaning it has decreased by 15% in this year's review, added the charity.

The Scottish Government's funding will increase by £2.4 billion, Wales will receive £1.3 billion and there is £0.9 billion for the Northern Ireland Executive.

Mr Sunak said £280 billion was being spent on the coronavirus response this year.

Despite the grim forecasts, Sunak set out significant additional spending to help public services in the final months of the pandemic crisis: £18 billion will be allocated for spending on testing, personal protective equipment and vaccines in the coming year, while the NHS will receive an additional £3 billion, transport £2 billion and local councils £3 billion.

The Government is also "considering options for further Covid-19 related support through business rates reliefs", with plans to be set out in the new year.

"I am determined to protect jobs and this will help me protect jobs", said Mr Sunak.

The government's mammoth package is being coordinated with the Bank of England, which is pumping huge amounts of cash into the economy to support businesses and has slashed its interest rate to a record-low 0.1 per cent.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said £9.6 billion of the increase in departmental spending will go to just three areas - health, defence and schools.

The country's cut to foreign aid has also been criticized, some claiming that it could negatively impact millions.

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