Cuts ‘weakening business’ says TUC leader

PUBLIC sector spending cuts in Yorkshire could weaken local economies and undermine the recovery, a top union leader has warned.

The Trades Union Congress’ general secretary Brendan Barber hit out at the’s Government’s austerity measures during a tour of the region yesterday.

He said that Yorkshire had been one of the hardest hit areas of the country during the recession and was now in danger of being among the worst affected by the coalition’s cuts.

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The TUC has published an analysis of unemployment figures which shows that Hull, Rotherham, North East Lincolnshire and Sheffield are the toughest places to find work in the region with more than 18 dole claimants for every job vacancy in Hull.

Mr Barber visited Sheffield’s Forgemaster’s factory, Northern Ballet in Leeds and held talks with Bradford Council leader Ian Greenwood and Leeds Council’s chief executive Tom Riordan yesterday.

He said: “I have seen a mixed picture in Yorkshire. There is a real determination to take every possible step to cope with some of the economic problems that are coming down the track.

“Particularly at Sheffield Forgemasters, which suffered a setback because of the withdrawal of a Government loan, there is a determination to explore business opportunities.

“But in the public sector I have spoken to leaders and trade union colleagues at both Bradford and Leeds councils where there are real problems because of the spending cuts.”

Sheffield Forgemasters had an £80m loan to allow the company to manufacture components for nuclear power plants cancelled by Ministers last year.

Mr Barber said: “The government’s deep and rapid spending cuts will only make matters worse. They are already weakening business and consumer confidence and they will also dampen demand in the local economy. It’s not just public sector workers and users of vital public services that will lose out either.

“Many local businesses rely on the demand created by public investment and entire towns suffer when unemployment is high. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Factories like Forgemasters show that Yorkshire can lead the way in creating new green jobs and leading a manufacturing renaissance.”