Union leaders accused the Chancellor of being “wildly out of touch” with the lives of millions of people and of refusing to change unpopular policies.
Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka said George Osborne’s plans were “miles off course”.
He added: “Two years ago we said austerity wouldn’t work and we were right. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now, but the Chancellor is refusing to change track, presenting a smoke-and-mirrors statement that will do nothing to boost our ailing economy.
“Such a toxic combination of arrogance and economic illiteracy would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious, if real people’s lives and communities weren’t being torn apart by this Government’s failed policies.”
GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: “Osborne is in denial that the economy is making progress and that the cuts are hitting people in a fair way. He says that austerity will last until 2018 but he is likely to be sacked by the electorate well before then for stalling the recovery he inherited.”
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: “Today’s statement is more proof that the Chancellor neither knows nor cares about what ordinary working people are going through.”
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “When you are self-harming you should stop, not look for better sticking plasters.
“Cuts, austerity and squeezed living standards stretch seemingly without end into the future. What is missing today is any vision of a future economy that can deliver decent jobs and living standards – it’s pain without purpose.”
Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “Local government has borne the brunt of cuts to public spending so far and, while it is pleasing our campaigning has resulted in councils being protected from additional cuts next year, the extra two per cent cut in 2014/15 is unsustainable.
“Cutting council funding to help pay for nationally-administered economic stimulus programmes would be bad for local front-line services and makes no sense economically.”