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From: The Socialist issue 937, 22 February 2017: Support the NHS? Join the march!

Search site for keywords: Wages - Welfare - Government - Poverty - Benefits - Food Banks - Wealth - Low-paid - Zero-hour contracts - Austerity - Rich - Tax credits - Trade union - Tax - Pay - Minimum wage

30% of people on inadequate incomes in UK

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)

Karen Seymour, Welfare rights adviser

19 million people in the UK - nearly 30% of the population - live below the 'minimum income standard' (MIS) and "are just about managing at best," according to a recent report by the poverty think-tank Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Theresa May and her government would do well to read it.

The MIS is based on public perception of decent living standards, as calculated by Loughborough University. Four million more people are now in this category than were before the 2007-8 financial crisis.

And in 2014-15, 11 million earned less than 75% of MIS - up from 9.1 million in 2008-9 - and were therefore at serious risk of plunging into poverty.

As a welfare rights adviser, I have helped people who are in low-paid, irregular work, and who have to resort to local food banks. Even with tax credits, or, more accurately, subsidies for employers who will not pay their workers wages they can live on, a family income may still not be enough to make ends meet.

This smashes the Tory myth that work pays. The new, hideously complicated 'universal credit' payments will still mean employers are let off paying decent wages!

The report also estimates that by 2020 the cost of living is likely to be 10% higher than before the crash. With the government hell-bent on carrying on its austerity agenda forever if we let it, our living standards will be eroded even more.

The rich will carry on just fine. We are angry and have had enough. A campaign must be built against these relentless attacks.

Corbyn and the trade union leaders must campaign for a 10 an hour minimum wage with no exemptions, an end to zero-hour contracts and precarious employment, proper terms and conditions in work, and liveable benefits for all.

Workers don't want to be 'just about managing'. We create the wealth - we should be rewarded properly for it!

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