We want real benefits, living wage, rent control and socialism

Empty pockets broke penniless poor poverty budget, photo Dan Moyle (Creative Commons)

Empty pockets broke penniless poor poverty budget, photo Dan Moyle (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Sam Morden, South Tyne and Wear Socialist Party

A report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that 2.4 million, including half a million children, experienced “destitution” in 2019 – before coronavirus reached the UK. This is up 54% since 2017.

In a country where unemployment is on the rise because of the financial crisis, and more people are forced onto what little Universal Credit may give (draconian sanctions permitting), these numbers are set only to increase.

Of the destitute, a fifth are homeless or suffer from addiction. 54% have a chronic health problem or disability. 14% are in paid work. These are indictments of the capitalist system and its effect on our health.

Destitution has risen sharply in all regions. The worst affected are London, where wealth contrasts with grinding poverty, and the north of England.

A January 2020 report by the Child Poverty Action Group shows that my home constituency – Gateshead – has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the north east (42%) – equal to Middlesbrough, and second only to Newcastle Central (48%).

The Foundation’s report calls for the £20-a-week rise in Universal Credit to be extended, which the Socialist Party supports. But, in one of the richest countries in the world, it should be much more.

Benefits should be similar to a real living wage. Rents should be capped and council homes built. Only when the economy is taken into democratic public ownership will we see the wealth created used to end poverty for good.