The news that the government has chalked up its biggest budget surplus for July in 18 years should prompt ministers to jettison its continuing austerity agenda, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Tuesday 21 August).

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said today that public sector net borrowing, excluding state-owned banks, was in surplus by £2.0 billion in July which was £1 billion more than the surplus in July 2017. This was the largest July surplus for 18 years.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Today’s news shows that there is capacity for further borrowing for the crumbling public sector – and the message is that chancellor Philip Hammond should seize the day to reverse the years of neglect.

“This is the day that mindless Conservative austerity should be brought to a close once and for all.

“The Tories lied when they claimed `we’re all in it together’. Under this government, the rich have got richer while dedicated public sector workers – nurses, teachers, refuse and low waged workers - were pushed onto the breadline as they were made to pay for the crooked actions of a banking elite.

“NHS waiting times for routine operations have increased, libraries have closed, begging letters from teachers are commonplace now in schoolbags and potholes in the roads go unrepaired.

“It is high time that the purse strings were loosened to start rebuilding public services and our infrastructure for the overall benefit of the UK.

“Increased investment in the NHS, education, house building, local government and transport links is not only now urgently needed, there is also absolutely no excuse for the government not to do so.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065. Email: shaun.noble@unitetheunion.org