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There should be no such thing as absolute poverty in Britain

Absolute poverty levels are reported to be at their highest for 30 years, in one of the wealthiest countries on earth. Labour apparently said the statistics were “horrifying”. So what are they going to do about it? Implement further austerity and sell off what few public services we have left.

By Nina Knowles (Workers GB Writers Group)

A record 12 million people, or 18% of the UK population, are now living in absolute poverty, defined as having a household income below 60% of the national median. Of this figure, 3.6 million are children, representing a 2% child poverty rise. Food insecurity has also risen from 7 to 10% of households (up from 5 to 7 million people), and 41% of households in the overall figure are on Universal credit. This number would have been three times higher, had it not been for the provision of cost-of-living payments.

New Households Below Average Income (HBAI) data released by the Department for Work and Pensions, sheds new light on what the uniparty call the cost-of-living crisis, with households across the income distribution experiencing a fall in real household incomes, due to a variety of factors that include a 10% inflation rise.

Predictably, the BBC blame this dire situation on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as if the UK was the land of milk and honey for working class people before February 2022, when 4 in 10 British people were already in “very deep” poverty in the year preceding this war. The truth is that the overall level of poverty has barely moved since Conservative-led governments took power in 2010, and prior to the election of the Tories, Labour oversaw an increasing rise in poverty towards the end of their tenure.

A large proportion of this figure are in employment but being in work in the U.K does not stop individuals or families from being poor. In-work poverty has increased by 1.5 million people since 2010. Wages and benefits remain too low for the rising costs of essentials such as childcare, transport, food, and housing, with the gulf between housing costs and earnings being the worst since 1876. Larger families with three or more children face an increased risk of poverty due to the two-child benefit cap.

While the Tories and Labour skirt around how best to solve the poverty crisis, continually blaming market failures or events overseas, The Workers Party remains fully committed to the redistribution of wealth to benefit working people. While the uniparty seek to obfuscate the causes and solutions to poverty by blaming external factors, we understand that poverty is a political choice and that successive policies of deindustrialisation, the privatisation of key sectors and services, and the seemingly never ending thirst for war are the main drivers of poverty, and only the Workers Party of Britain seek to overturn them.

Poverty is not just expensive for individuals and families; it is devastating to the national economy. It is estimated that poverty dents the public purse at a cost of £78 billion per year, with nearly half of that figure paying for associated medical conditions. The rest of that figure will no doubt be spent on additional public services needed to alleviate the effects of living in poverty. By committing to significant spending on social and economic infrastructure, we will not be “buying twice”, but ensuring sound investment in essential services which will result in major efficiency savings.

The alleviation of poverty underpins all aspects of our manifesto. We cannot have a fully functioning and prosperous country without adequately remunerated workers. From the increase in the personal tax threshold for the lowest paid workers, to the insurance of a minimum income for those who are unable to work, we are fully committed to eradicating absolute poverty in Britain, for the benefit of all who live here.

4 thoughts on “There should be no such thing as absolute poverty in Britain

  1. You should have defined what absolute poverty is in order to distinguish it from relative poverty.

  2. How is absolute poverty defined? I know things are pretty bad, due to austerity and then the ‘Cost of Fighting Putin Crisis’, but I’ve seen a little worse in other countries.

    1. I would agree with you (new guy here, very impressed with George G’s rumble speech with Russel B). I just came back there from Dublin and while on paper Ireland is vastly better off than the UK it did strike me that homelessness, at least anecdotally, seemed actually worse – every street had one or more panhandlers with individuals looking to be in pretty dire straits – I think Ireland just hides their poverty better than us in government statistics, although needless to say this does not take away from the fact poverty here is real and is really hitting people hard.

  3. It is unacceptable that in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, 12 million people, including 3.6 million children, are living in poverty. The fact that this situation has worsened despite the provision of cost-of-living payments highlights the inadequacy of the current measures in place to combat poverty.
    I strongly believe that the root causes of poverty lie in the political choices made by successive governments. The policies of deindustrialization, privatization of essential services, and the constant push for war have contributed to the widening gap between the rich and the poor. It is time for a fundamental shift in our approach to tackling poverty. We must prioritize the redistribution of wealth to ensure that working people receive fair wages and adequate support. By investing in social and economic infrastructure, we can create a more equitable society where everyone has access to the resources they need to lead a dignified life. The Workers Party’s commitment to eradicating absolute poverty in Britain is a crucial step in this direction, and I fully support their efforts to build a more prosperous nation for all.

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