Any benefits brought to workers in the Province by the living wage will be wiped out by the Chancellor’s attacks on tax credits, student grants and wage restraint Unite claimed.
Staying in step with his colleagues in GB, the union’s Ireland secretary Jimmy Kelly said George Osborne’s onslaught on tax credits would disproportionately impact working families Northern Ireland.
In addition, he warned that plans to scrap student maintenance grants would exclude a generation of working class youth from higher education
Pledging a fight back through industrial action, he outlined his union’s determination to meet the challenges posed by what he branded an anti-worker budget.
“As was expected, this budget was a harsh blow to workers,” he said.
“The downward revision of growth forecasts and slippage on the date by which budgetary surplus will be achieved expose the failure of the Government’s austerity policies.”
Instead of taking advantage of historically low interest rates to borrow to invest in critical infrastructural projects which would stimulate growth and help facilitate a transition to a low-carbon, modern economy, he said the Chancellor was more concerned with lowering taxes for big business while scrapping maintenance grants for students coming from the poorest households.
“Moves to lower the tax credit earnings threshold and increase the discount factor substantially will result in a dramatic loss of income for millions of working families across the UK,” said Mr Kelly.
“Inevitably, this will result in a step-change in the incidence of childhood poverty.
“It will be a devastating blow to those households who rely on tax credits to make ends meet.
“Proposals for the adoption of a ‘living wage’ of £9 per hour by 2020 fall far short of making up for these cuts.”