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From The Socialist newspaper, 26 November 2014

Scandal of unequal Britain

14 day deadline to breadline

A picket at St Leonard's hospital in Hackney, London, 24.11.14, photo by Paul Mattsson

photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Alison Hill

Many MPs will be looking forward to 2015 - perhaps not to the general election but to the 11% pay rise they'll get if they survive it. And if 74,000 a year isn't enough to live on, and some of them claim it isn't, there's always the Westminster Food Bank - the House of Commons canteen.

Some are a bit embarrassed by this generous pay deal, on top of a series of equally generous packages. 'We can't do anything about it' they cry, 'it's all decided by an outside body.'

But all this flannel doesn't conceal the real scandal of unequal Britain which has been revealed once again in a recent report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

It paints a horrifying picture of working families living in poverty. Where the much boasted about fall in unemployment is in reality a picture of people working for much less than the living wage and in many cases lower than the minimum wage.

The scourges of zero-hour contracts and 'self employment' have plunged thousands of families into poverty and uncertainty. The report found that nearly 1.4 million people are on zero-hour contracts and 13% of self-employed people are earning less than they did five years ago.

And once your income is uncertain your housing becomes uncertain, your heating becomes uncertain and even your next meal becomes uncertain.

The average UK household has so little in savings that it has just 29 days after losing its main income before becoming dependent on benefits and friends. For working age households this is reduced to 14 days. They call this the 'deadline to breadline'. What a scandal in 2014!

Families are teetering on the edge of poverty. Parents are giving up meals to feed their children. People are living on credit cards and pay day loans, selling possessions and not surprisingly suffering from stress-related illnesses.

Who is speaking up for these millions? Not the cosseted MPs having to suffer the embarrassment of another fat pay rise. Time to organise to kick them out. Time to build a party that will really represent and fight for working people and change the system that can only offer us breadline Britain.

The Socialist Party is part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition which aims to stand 100 anti-austerity candidates in next year's general election.


BFAWU president Ian Hodson (with megaphone) on a Fast Food Rights protest

BFAWU president Ian Hodson (with megaphone) on a Fast Food Rights protest   (Click to enlarge)

"As a minimum wage fast-food worker I find living on 6.50 an hour impossible. On a zero-hour contract and with the price of living soaring, a social life is both too expensive and difficult to organise as I could be pulled into work at any time. Things like moving out from home are stressful rather than enjoyable and liberating.

This is why I campaign with Youth Fight for Jobs against zero-hour contracts, for guaranteed hours and a 10 an hour living wage. Only by organising a mass campaign of working class people can we better our lot and win a decent standard of living for all.

I will be attending the day of action in Cardiff for 10 now on 4 December and have decided to get organised and join the bakers' union BFAWU."

A fast food worker, Cardiff

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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.

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In The Socialist 26 November 2014:


Socialist Party news and analysis

14 day deadline to breadline

Hands off our NHS

Rochester: 'Business as usual' politics falling apart

World economy - heading for the junkyard

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Anger erupts in Ferguson over acquittal of killer cop

Ireland: establishment attacks water tax protests

Anger grows over missing Mexican students


Socialist Party features

Housing crisis! What do socialists say?

Education: "a hurricane of ill thought initiatives"


Socialist Party youth and students

Students march for free education

Victories against sexism in Leeds

Fast Food Rights campaign


Socialist Party workplace news

Health workers walkout in second NHS pay strike

UCU pensions: reinstate the action!

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Are you a socialist?

Council beaten on austerity tax

TUSC says no to cuts in Notts

Way to go, Watford!


Socialist Party reviews and readers' comments

Assassin's Creed Unity

The People Speak: Democracy is not a spectator sport

NHS campaigners must fight all cuts


 

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Related links:

Poverty:

triangleTories and Labour fail on child poverty

triangleWhy I joined the Socialist Party

triangleKeep the Universal Credit uplift

triangleDefend the triple lock - Fight to end poverty pensions

triangleWomen and the criminal 'injustice' system

Britain:

triangleSocialist Party national youth meeting

trianglePreparing for struggle in post-Covid Britain

triangleThe story of Joe Clough - Britain's first black bus driver

Pay:

triangleIsrael: Hospital ancillary workers' strike suspended

triangleTower Hamlets Labour backs Tory cuts

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Zero-hour contracts:

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Benefits:

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TUSC:

triangleWe need councillors who will end housing crisis - vote TUSC in Staines on 22 July

BFAWU:

triangleYouth Fight for Jobs is officially relaunched

Austerity:

triangleReaders' comments

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