More Poverty, More Corporate Greed, Less Compassion
Remember, Remember the 12th of December a date Labour activists will never forget. “For the many not the few” lost out to “Get Brexit Done” and has condemned many to 5 more years of austerity, more reductions in workers’ rights more unbridledcapitalism with more obscene salaries for the few.
A mere 9 years ago the Conservatives supported by the Liberal Democrats started the process where the cloak of Brexit covered the destructive force of austerity. The Social Metrics Commission set up in 2016 to develop a new way of measuring poverty found that 14.3million people now lived in poverty and 7million people including 2.3million children were affected by what they described as persistent poverty. A separate piece of research has also indicated 1.5million people suffer extreme poverty or destitution as a result of benefit cuts and high rents. The State of Hunger Report 2019 was compiled by academics from Heriot-Watt University.According to the research “there is clear and robust evidence that people struggling on the lowest rungs of the income ladder are pushed rapidly into destitution when their already tight budgets are broken by benefit payment delays, cuts, deductions or sanctions”. It found five welfare policies- the rollout of universal credit, increases in benefit sanctions, the bedroom tax, the benefits freeze and the withdrawal of disability benefits-had sizeable and significant effects in pushing up demand for food parcels. In 2018/19 one in 50 UK Households used a foodbank.
Shelter says that for many people on housing benefit who on average are now having to find £113 a month to meet the shortfall between their housing benefit payments and their rent demands for many these can be catastrophic amounts, forcing many to choose between paying rent and buying food. If they cannot meet the difference, they are at risk of eviction. Also, in the last six years Council Tax debts have risen by 40% making it the most common form of debt. The most visible form of homelessness is of course rough sleeping although the charity Crisis estimates there are 71,400 people “sofa-surfing” and have been for more than 6 months making it the largest form of homelessness. In 2018 the number of homeless people dying rose by 22% the highest since records were first collected in 2013. Charities, M.P.’s and experts say austerity and cuts to services are driving a homelessness crisis. Work is obviously the answer to Poverty or is it? A study by the institute of Fiscal Studies shows that between 1994 and 2017 the share of poverty accounted for by working households had jumped from 37% to 58% caused by more expensive housing and weak earnings.
Those fortunate enough to be in work can still expect to be poor, but not so the bosses who are rubbing their hands with glee as the new Conservative government will make further relaxations in employment laws. For a more detailed view of the excesses of corporate pay see Left hand View on Pay (June 2019). Since that blogthe boss of Persimmon the house builder received an £85m bonus, the founder of Bet 365 paid herself £323m last year the equivalent of 10,152 teacher’s salaries, whilst the boss of Virgin Money saw his salary doubled to £3.4m per annum despite a second consecutive annual loss. Whilst Deliveroo who employ 60,000 delivery riders, all self-employed contractors with no guaranteed minimum wage, holiday pay or sick pay sees a Director receive a 57% pay increase with £8.3m of share options. Overall between 2014 and 2018 shareholder payments to FTSE 100 companies have risen by 56% whilst during the same period wages edged up by just 8.8%. Only strong Trades Unions can fight against corporate greed and worsening pay and conditions.
We might have expected a modicum of compassion from the Liberal Democrats but ex M.P. soon to be ex Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson in a Channel 4 interview said she had “no regrets about the coalition” despite its role in bringing about austerity. We can expect no compassion from a Tory government given the green light to introduce further public spending cuts, reduce workers rights, continue to force elderly people to sell their homes in exchange for inadequate social care, continue to let graduates run up thousands of pounds of debt, do nothing about homelessness and probably pay lip service to climate change. Be careful what you wish, vote for.