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From The Socialist newspaper, 27 June 2012

Breadline Britain - living in poverty

Hackney College UCU members protest June 2012

Hackney College UCU members protest June 2012 "Sack bankers not teachers", photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

A series in the Guardian, Breadline Britain, has outlined some shocking statistics about poverty. These figures have smashed apart the Tory propaganda about 'scroungers' and 'the job-shy'.

Seven million adults are always one step away from extreme financial stress - even though they work. This has a wide variety of horrific consequences on our communities, some of which are commented on by Socialist Party members here.

In the eighth richest country in the world, there is no reason for poverty. There is 750 billion lying idle in the bank accounts of big business - they won't invest because they can't see a way to make a quick profit.

The Socialist Party calls for an immediate 50% levy on that money to enable mass investment into public services and socially useful job creation.

We also call for:

'Cliff edge' poverty blights millions

Breadline Britain particularly highlighted what the Guardian calls 'cliff edge' poverty. This describes those who manage to survive but are always at breaking point to the extent that they have no way to handle an unexpectedly large bill or a broken household appliance.

An increasing number of these people are working. The number of housing benefit claimants who are in work, for example, more than doubled between November 2008 and February 2012.

And 58% of children in poverty have at least one parent in work. The Charity for Civil Servants, a hardship fund, used to give money mainly to retired and vulnerable civil servants. Now 85% of their funds go to those in work, mainly with young families.

Costs are going up, wages are frozen and benefits are being slashed. In the last five years, food prices have gone up 30.5% while the minimum wage has risen only 12.1%.

The 'cliff edge' explains the rise in pay day loan companies, charity shops and food banks as people need a way to pay unexpected costs.

The problem was highlighted recently by the computer error at RBS, Ulster bank and NatWest meaning that millions of customers didn't have expected wages and benefits transferred into their accounts.

Adele Guntrip, Hampshire Socialist Party, describes her experience.

On Thursday 21 June I was a victim of the NatWest banking system crash. I woke up and went to get my tax credits that I rely on to feed my children - as we live hand to mouth, week to week - and discovered that I had no money.

I called the bank and was told they could not offer an emergency system as all accounts were down.

I spoke to two other people who were in panic as they had not received their money. One had no food and no electric and was reliant on the money they get every Thursday for sustenance. It was only through my advice to them that they realised the problem.

Every pensioner, every benefit claimant and everyone in receipt of tax credits who banks with any of the RBS owned banks, was without funds.

If I did not have a partner who lent me the money I would not have been able to send my sons to school.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 27 June 2012:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Hypocrites! Tories bash benefits, rich let off the hook

Breadline Britain - living in poverty

Poverty and job worries hit mental health

Teachers report children going hungry

Government of rich ups war on welfare state

Miliband speech: no answer to the race to the bottom

Protest for affordable housing - join the Austerity Games

Life in a 'forgotten' area

Cuts ignore immense needs

Them & Us

Socialist Party NHS campaign


Stop the NHS massacre

Socialist Party workplace news

London bus workers show their strength

Police wade in at Coryton protest

HMRC members show their opposition to another round of job cuts and privatisation

RMT conference prepares for battle

Sheffield recycling workers: Support their indefinite strike action

Unison conference Delegates call for effective battle on pay

Unison backs Tamil Solidarity

Unite conference 'The renaissance of trade unionism'

Block on Progress - "intolerable think tank"?

Wales Shop Stewards Network

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition: Building the fight against all cuts

International socialist news and analysis

Spain: New epicentre of crisis in Europe

Kazakh embassy protest to free Bolat Atabayev


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