Commenting on the Queen’s Speech today (Wednesday), TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady, pictured right, said: “Three years on from the last general election, when ordinary working people are facing the biggest squeeze on their living standards in a generation, the government should really have used today to call time on its failed austerity experiment and change course.
“What we really needed to hear today were bold plans for a stimulus package to boost our growth, create decent jobs for those out of work and investment in our creaking infrastructure, and a jobs guarantee to offer hope to the many for whom work is still but a distant dream.
On the care bill
“On social care the government has made a step in the right direction, albeit a cautious one. But by devolving the responsibility for care to local authorities at the same time they are slashing budgets, we are still some considerable way off a decent and affordable system of care to look after us all in our old age.
On the deregulation bill
“Taking the protection of health and safety laws away from some of the UK’s many self-employed workers – who are more than twice as likely as employees to be killed at work – will not help businesses nor grow our economy one bit. It’s a recipe for confusion as many people will now be unsure about their rights and responsibilities. The result is likely to be an increase in workplace accidents.
On the pensions bill
“While there is much to be said for the move to a simpler, flat rate state pension, there are fears that by doing so at no extra cost to the public purse, young people will end up with much less than they would have received under the current system.
“By raising the state pension age and ignoring persistent health inequalities, the government risks overseeing a dramatic rise in pensioner poverty. Instead of making people work for longer the government should be focusing on creating more jobs.
“The knock on effect that the ending of contracting out of the second state pension could have on national spending is also of great concern. If the NHS and other public sector employers have to find billions extra in increased national insurance contributions to pay to the Treasury, public services will face even sharper cuts.”