Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/785/17618
Government policies - 'deeply divisive'
The government's social mobility Tsar - former Labour health secretary Alan Milburn - appeared to be off message when his Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission published its first 'state of the nation' report, saying that "Britain remains a deeply divided country".
The Commission said, unsurprisingly, that the wealth gap was widening and the numbers in poverty were growing.
It confirmed that the Con-Dems' spending cuts have been "regressive" with the bottom 20% of income earners hit the hardest.
And while urging the government to raise the minimum wage, the commission wants to means test pensioners to qualify for free TV licences and fuel allowances.
Milburn and Co do not argue that austerity, with its attendant social problems, is wrong but, rather, the government should take benefits from the elderly in order to increase them for younger workers. In other words; 'rob Peter to pay for Paul'.
The Commission goes on to say that, in the past, tax credits and public spending helped reduce child poverty, but under the Con-Dems' austerity measures these "props" have been removed.
Therefore, the government should ask employers to step into the breach with higher wages. As if that is going to happen!
In reality, unless resisted by the workers' movement, the capitalist class will continue to squeeze workers and the poor to pay for the crisis in its sick system.
As Milburn admits: "The economic recovery is unlikely to halt the trend of the last decade, where the top part of society prospers and the bottom part stagnates.
"If that happens, social inequality will widen and the rungs of the social ladder will grow further apart."
Some of the Commission's key findings
"The UK is not on track to meet the statutory goal of ending child poverty by 2020. ...the target will be missed by a considerable margin, perhaps by as many as two million children in relative poverty."
"Numbers of young people unemployed for two years or more are at a 20-year high and the UK government has been too slow to act.
"Real wages were stagnating before the recession and have fallen further since, putting a squeeze on living standards."
"Britain has among the highest proportion of women in the OECD who switch to working part-time after having children, partly because of caring responsibilities and high childcare costs."
"The most deprived areas still have 30% fewer good schools."
"We welcome the big expansion in apprenticeships but not the decision to abolish the Educational Maintenance Allowance.
"Too many (young people) end up not in employment, education or training (NEET) each year."
In The Socialist 23 October 2013:
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