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Unions call for measures to end austerity on 14th anniversary of 2010 budget

A COALITION of unions has urged the next government to end austerity to mark the 14th anniversary of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition’s infamous announcement of £40 billion worth of cuts to public spending.

The 13 trade unions and campaign groups that from the Make Equality Real campaign wrote to party leaders today calling on them to commit to enshrining an socio-economic duty into the Equality Act.

Their letter states: “Ending austerity and making equality real is integral to ensuring that everyone in Britain can live secure and fulfilling lives.” 

Association of Educational Psychologists general secretary Dr Cath Lowther said: “Today we remember the devastating impact of that 2010 Budget.

“The destruction of public services and the negative impact on our communities.

“Our campaign is clear that we must end austerity, and we see the introduction of the socio-economic duty as a mechanism to contribute towards this goal.” 

The socio-economic duty requires public bodies to adopt measures to address the inequalities that result from differences in occupation, education, place of residence or social class, explains coalition member the Equality Trust.

In April 2018 the Scottish Parliament enacted the Fairer Scotland Duty, the name given to the socio-economic duty in the country. Some local councils have also adopted its key policies.

Equality Trust co-executive director Priya Sahani-Nicholas said: “As the result of actions taken, Scotland has the lowest levels of child poverty it has seen in 30 years, with 60,000 fewer children living in poverty in 2023 compared with 2017.

“Reducing inequality and reducing the impacts of inequality should be a dedicated and primary focus of all governments.

“The UK is the fifth-richest country in the world — so we know money is available. We are calling on our elected representatives to prioritise greater equality.” 

Social Workers Union general secretary John McGowan added: “Through the harrowing testimony of our members working within our local communities, we have known that austerity has increased those living in poor conditions of housing and led to a rise in fuel and child poverty.

“Austerity is political choice and it’s time to change that choice.” 

The campaign launched last month and is being co-ordinated by the General Federation of Trade Unions.

NASUWT, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, Equity, the Musicians Union and the National Association of Head Teachers have recently joined it.


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