Poverty Britain: Labour’s War On Austerity

On Wednesday, Labour pledged to wage war on the “ten modern scourges of poverty”. This is an attempt from the party to undo the argued decade of austerity, facilitated through the Conservative Party. Recently, the party has published their ‘Poverty Britain: Ten Ways the Tories have Entrenched Poverty across Britain’ report, describing how the Conservative Party have allowed a “poverty crisis” to occur, widespread and visible to all of Britain. The report outlines why this is the case, highlighting 10 crucial tests for tackling poverty and improving living standards failed by the Conservatives.

The Ten Tests of Poverty Britain that have been described as failures by the Labour Party are as follows:

  1. Child Poverty
  2. Child Deprivation
  3. In-Work Poverty
  4. Wages
  5. Disposable Incomes
  6. Food Banks
  7. Homelessness
  8. Pensioner Poverty
  9. Savings
  10. Disability Poverty

The new analysis in the report elaborates on the nature of these failures. Wage stagnation is said to have cost the average worker around £6,300 in lost wages. Food banks have provided 65 million meals over the course of the last five years; this equates to a meal for every single person in the whole of the UK. Additionally, with a near 3 million increase since 2010-11, over 20 million adults have no savings. Regarding child poverty, there has been a near 50% increase in the number of children with severe low income and deprivation between 2011-12 and 2017-19, with poverty in families which included a disabled member rising by over a million in the last 9 years. With regards to in-work poverty, this has increased by 1.5 million since 2010-11. These are just to name a few of the headlines of the report.

Alongside this, Labour has promised to rectify this decade of austerity they have accused the Conservative Party of creating. They have pledged to fix this; the following are examples of some of their aims:

  • End rough sleeping within a Parliament, through the ring-fencing of 8000 extra homes for people with a history of rough sleeping; £100 million will be contributed to tackling immediate winter pressures
  • Instigate a large-scale programme of investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation
  • Set a target for ending the need for food banks within their first 3 years in parliament, whilst halving food bank usage in their 1st year
  • Protect pensioner income through guaranteeing free bus passes, Winter Fuel payments, and free TV licences
  • Provide universal free school meals for all primary school children, and expand free childcare
  • Immediate introduction of £10 an hour wages for all over 16s
  • Get rid of in-work poverty within a Parliament
  • Redevelop the social security system with dignity, universalism and ending poverty as core focuses
  • Help women born in the 1950s who were affected by the Conservative Party’s change to the State Pension age be brought justice and restore their pensions
  • Cap credit card and overdraft repayments in an attempt to help with problem debt, ensuring that a borrower never repays more interest than originally borrowed

Labour states that their manifesto is “the most radical, hopeful, people-focused, fully-costed plan in modern times”. Standing for the many, not the few, Labour hopes to transform this country, stating their wishes to tackle the climate emergency, end “food bank Britain”, and rehash the rules of our economy to ensure all of us benefit, not just the billionaires and others in the top 5% amongst us.

In the words of John McDonnell, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, “The choice at this election couldn’t be clearer: more stress and struggle for millions to make ends meet under the Tories or real change with Labour.”