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Autumn Budget fails to address the retail crisis and the rising cost of living

Date: 27 October 2021 Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw expressed disappointment that today’s Budget fails to provide help for the struggling retail sector and avert the looming cost of living crisis.
Usdaw called on the Government to address four key issues:
 
  • Retail Recovery Plan to tackle the immediate crisis on our high streets, help save jobs and tackle long-term structural issues in the retail industry.
  • New deal for workers to ensure work pays with a minimum wage of at least £10 per hour and an end to insecure contracts.
  • Universal credit to reform the system so that low-paid workers have a proper social security system that they can rely on.
  • Automation and skills to help and support workers retain job security and incomes as new technology significantly changes the world of work.

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “In a Budget that was deliberately leaked to the press ahead of today’s announcement in Parliament, the Chancellor has been attempting to generate positive headlines but has not delivered the policies to back them up.

“The pandemic highlighted the importance of the retail sector. It employs almost 3 million people and contributes both to the economy and our communities. The temporary relief to business rates announced today does not provide the fundamental reform to the system which the sector has been calling out for. The Chancellor has simply kicked the issue into the long grass instead of taking the opportunity to create a level playing field between high streets and online retail.

“Long standing problems like low pay and insecure work need to be addressed. If the Chancellor is genuine about ‘building back better’ and ‘levelling up’ then he needs to give key workers, like our members who worked throughout the pandemic, a minimum wage of at least £10 per hour. This will ensure that these jobs are no longer underpaid and undervalued. Usdaw’s evidence from a survey of 2,500 low paid workers shows that over half of workers on less than £10 per hour are having to miss meals to pay everyday bills.

“Furthermore, the Chancellor should not be celebrating the fact that Universal Credit claimants will be paying a minimum 55% tax rate on much of their earnings. The amended taper rate will continue to act as a dis-incentive to work and will only benefit less than a third of families affected by the £20 cut that came into effect in October. It was also disappointing that the Chancellor has rejected to extend free school meals for three years thereby affecting the health and wellbeing of millions of children across the country.

“Soaring energy, food and petrol prices are squeezing households already on tight budgets. Inflation is predicted to peak close to 5% in the coming months and the Chancellor not ruling out tax rises, it is clear this Budget will not resolve the cost of living crisis facing low-paid workers.

“Beyond the spin, it doesn’t take much to see that today’s Budget will leave millions of hardworking people, facing an incredibly tough winter, with little money in their pockets.”

Note to Editors

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 370,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.

For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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