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New research by the New Economics Foundation and TUC warns £43bn a year needed just for public services to stand still

MINISTERS must protect public services from soaring inflation and the Tory-made economic crisis, the TUC has demanded as new research reveals schools and hospitals need billions more just to stand still. 

Social justice think tank the New Economics Foundation said its analysis shows that public services require an additional £43 billion a year by 2024-25 just to ensure real-terms spending stays at the level set out in last year’s spending review.

The study shows the damage that will be done to vital services and key workers’ livelihoods if Prime Minister Rishi Sunak does not stick to the commitments he made as chancellor in 2021, the TUC stressed.

These included a pledge to shield schools, hospitals, courts and other services from skyrocketing price rises and a promise to introduce the “highest sustained investment in the public sector for almost half a century.”

The warning came ahead of next Thursday’s Autumn Statement, when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, the latest occupant of No 11 Downing Street, is expected to herald another round of austerity to plug a whopping £50bn hole in public finances.

The shortfall is being exacerbated by four-decade high inflation and higher government borrowing costs after ex-PM Liz Truss triggered a run on the pound by announcing billions of pounds of unfunded tax cuts for the richest in September’s mini-budget.

November 17’s fiscal event is the first major test of Mr Sunak’s pledges to protect public services — what he dubbed the “people’s priority” — and an opportunity for him to set out a plan for rebuilding the economy, the TUC said.

The union body’s general secretary Frances O’Grady warned that more than a decade of Tory austerity has left essential services “short-staffed and overwhelmed.

“And now the double whammy of soaring inflation and the catastrophic mini-budget has pushed them to the brink.

“We’ve all heard the stories of people waiting too long for ambulances and sitting on waiting lists for operations for months.

“We can all see too many schools are crumbling and local councils are struggling to run basic services.

“The new prime minister must keep his promise that he will fund ‘world-class public services’ — our NHS and schools must not be collateral damage to the Tories crashing the economy.”

Ms O’Grady noted that “great public services underpin a growing economy and a more equal society.”

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