A new report produced for UNISON North West by CLES – the Centre for Local Economic Strategies – was launched today at Manchester Town Hall. The report highlights how austerity policies are not working in the region and points the way to a better economic future.
UNISON North West Regional Secretary Kevan Nelson opened the meeting by describing how workers are £1600 worse off on average, the low paid and unemployed suffering particularly. He explained that the structural adjustment called for by the promoters of austerity involved down-scaling wages and making workers more insecure. We are pressing for a different kind of structural adjustment, with well paid, more highly skilled jobs and high quality public services as part of balanced growth.
Manchester Council Leader Sir Richard Leese welcomed the report, thanked UNISON for producing it, and underlined the importance of trade unions as partners in making a better Manchester. He said that it is great to see the union contributing to a wider political debate about our future prosperity and playing an active role in promoting ideas that would not just benefit the North West but the whole of the Midlands and the North. He expressed a hope the title is a good piece of forecasting that there will be an after austerity. He finished by saying the return of a Labour Government may see the change we need, but we can’t take that for granted. We have to work with all stakeholders in the region to work for a better economy for the North West.
UNISON North West Regional Convenor Angela Rayner stressed the financial meltdown and the credit crunch caused the deficit, it was not caused by public spending. She decried the idea that a rising tide lifts all boats with even the Financial Times showing concern about the collapse in real wages and its negative effect on the economy. She outlined the headline proposals of the report - a Regional Investment Bank, more houses built, better transport links. She thanked the seven UNISON Branches that had helped CLES with case studies that demonstrate the problems we face. She declared that UNISON will continue to make the case against austerity and for a prosperous North West for all.
CLES Chief Executive Neil McInroy noted that the North West contributes 10% of UK national income and that a strong North West is important to the UK economy. He stated that there is a time lag from announcements to effects, as most planned cuts are yet to happen. He decried that the promised rebalancing of the economy since 2010 had simply not happened. He stated that the private sector had not taken up the slack from public job cuts here, and many private jobs are dependent on the public sector. He explained 31% of businesses are affected adversely by the cuts, especially small and medium enterprises and that the contribution of local government and public services should be better recognised.
The Full Report can be downloaded here: After Austerity – Full Report
The Summary of the Report can be downloaded here: After Austerity – Summary