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25 June 2014

Poverty Britain

Mary Jackson

Since the defeat of the miners' strike 30 years ago successive governments have continued the work started by Thatcher to take back all the gains in living standards previously won by workers.

The Poverty and Social Exclusion project carried out jointly by eight universities and two research agencies has just published its findings from the biggest study ever undertaken. It makes grim reading of increased inequality and poverty in the UK.

The percentage of households in poverty has more than doubled to 33% since the miners' strike.

18 million people cannot afford adequate housing, 2.5 million children live in damp homes, 1.5 million children live in cold homes, 4 million children and adults are not properly fed.

One in three cannot afford to heat their homes in winter; one in four consider themselves to be poor. 17% of adults in paid work are defined as poor and 21% are in arrears on essential household bills.

It is an outrage that in one of the richest countries in the world there is so much poverty, desperation and misery.

It's not all bad news, for some. Billions of pounds are being handed over to a few fat cats and companies to throw sick, disabled and dying people off benefits; billions to companies to privatise chunks of the NHS, and billions in tax cuts to the richest.

Chancellor George Osborne tells us his policies are working and we're coming out of recession. He must be talking about the fat cats, he's certainly not talking about the thousands suffering malnutrition in Britain. He's certainly not talking about the massive debt from the banks' bailouts... Or maybe he's just lying again!

We need a united working class fightback against the whole austerity package being pushed by the three main parties and the racist, populist Ukip.

The 10 July strike by low paid workers against the government's wage freeze could be the start of just such a campaign.