In the United Kingdom, the government is facing strikes from public and private sector workers who are unhappy with their pay.
This has been going on for a year, and people are struggling because of inflation, which is making their money worth less. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, is set to announce a budget to help ease the tension.
Hunt has already announced plans to give more money to childcare and to encourage people over 50 to get back to work. The government is also trying to fill over a million job vacancies caused by Brexit and a record number of long-term sick leave.
Hunt may also allow workers to put more money into their pensions tax-free. This would help senior doctors who are retiring early because of pension tax allowances. However, there are still concerns about inflation and strikes, and people are waiting to see what the budget will offer.
In France, the Senate has just voted to increase the minimum retirement age to 64. This has upset many people who started working at a young age. In the UK, the retirement age is set to increase to 66 before the end of the decade, meaning people will have to wait longer to access their state pension. Private pensions are available at an earlier age.
As well as pay concerns, health staff are protesting against overwork brought on by labour shortages, with doctors below consultant level among the hundreds of thousands expected to strike on Wednesday. The government wants to work with unions to achieve fair pay rises but wants the strikes to end first.
The government has also announced plans to spend an extra £5 billion on defence over the next two years, focused on nuclear resilience and replenishing depleted ammunition stocks. They are also planning to capture carbon and commit to nuclear energy to achieve a net-zero economy by mid-century.
Overall, the budget may offer fresh help, and economists are optimistic after the government recorded a stronger surplus than expected in January, and the country avoided recession last year. The government has already trailed a number of announcements set to be included in Hunt’s statement.