UK Trades Union Congress Calls for More Public Investment in Broadband

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The Trades Union Congress (TUC), which represents about 5.6 million British workers via 50 unions, has today published a new analysis of household debt that calls on the Government to push “a lot more” investment towards broadband and other areas in order to help tackle a shortage of well-paid jobs.[1] According to the TUC’s analysis, which is based on debt data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the most recent economic forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), unsecured debt per household is forecast to grow from ?13,200 in 2016 to reach a record high of ?13,900 this year and it could hit ?15,400 by 2021. The current low rate of unemployment is a positive aspect for tackling this, although the TUC claims that wages in the United Kingdom are still “worth around ?20 per week less than before the financial crisis a decade ago” and data from the ONS suggests that real wages are now falling again.

Obviously that’s a strain when you have an economy that, as the TUS says, is “heavily reliant on household spending to maintain growth.”

Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary, said: “The next government must act urgently to deliver the higher wages Britain needs for sustainable growth. They must boost the minimum wage, and end pay restrictions for public servants like nurses, firefighters and midwives.

A lot more government support is needed for the parts of Britain where well-paid jobs are in short supply. Communities that lack good jobs today could thrive tomorrow if they get proper investment in training, transport links, broadband and decent housing.”

Plenty of past reports have linked faster broadband connectivity to economic improvement and it’s something that all of the major political parties appear to be fighting over ahead of next month’s 2017 General Election (see details here[2], here[3] and here[4]), although some of the proposed policies seem to be more viable than others.

Should the next UK government invest more public money into better broadband connectivity?

  • Yes

  • No

  • Undecided

View Results[5]

Sadly the TUC’s own analysis doesn’t clarify precisely what “proper investment … in broadband” should constitute. Generally we’d support anything that helps to foster universal coverage of at least fixed line superfast broadband (30Mbps+), which can make even rural areas into attractive places for businesses to setup shop and grow.

Just so long as any fresh investment is careful not to reinforce monopoly positions or to damage investment in alternative networks, which is always a tricky balancing act to pull off without compromise.

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