There are 13 million people living in poverty in Britain and for the first time ever, the majority are in working families. The Prime Minister says his economic plan is working and people are better off, but this simply isn’t true.
In the past, when the economy grew, most people got better off with it. However that isn’t true anymore. Today people are facing a cost of living crisis. They are working harder, for longer, for less, year after year.
Last week’s employment statistics show that real wages have fallen by over £1,600 since 2010 yet the Government have tried to claim that things are getting better. Their highly selective figures do not even include the impact of things like cuts to tax credits and child benefit which have hit working families hard.
The Government’s failure to tackle long-term unemployment, low pay, and insecure jobs is also adding to social security bills, as well as undermining the strength and future prosperity of our economy. The Prime Minister talks about Britain being in a ‘global race’, but with him it’s a race to the bottom for the lowest wages and the fewest rights at work.
Britain will succeed in the 21st Century only with a race to the top, not a race to the bottom. The cost of living crisis could be tackled by building an economy that works for working people - freezing energy bills while resetting Britain’s energy market so it works for families and businesses, and tackling low pay by strengthening the minimum wage and giving employers an incentive to pay a living wage. Small business could be backed by cutting and then freezing business rates, and working parents supported to play their part by expanding free childcare for three and four year olds.
To tackle unacceptably high levels of long-term unemployment, a basic skills test would give jobseekers the skills they need to find work and the introduction of a compulsory jobs guarantee would give the long-term unemployed a decent job, while training up the next generation with a dramatic increase in the number of quality apprenticeships.
These measures are essential if we are to earn our way out of the cost of living crisis and build an economy that works for everyone.