Socialist Worker

As shocking new figures show suffering under the Tories, march to end their rule

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2561

Four out of five people referred to food banks have had to skip meals

Four out of five people referred to food banks have had to skip meals (Pic: Geograph)


Millions of people are struggling to feed themselves and heat their homes, raiding their savings and spending less.

A series of reports and official figures released this week paint a stark picture of how working class people are suffering under the Tories.  

Four out of five people referred to food banks have had to skip meals, a major study commissioned by the Trussell Trust charity found. Some had gone days for food—and half said they could not afford heating or toiletries.

Oxford University researchers questioned 400 households for the study.

Most were referred to food banks after an “income shock”, often linked to benefit delays or rising food and housing costs.

But this was against a background of chronic low pay.

Around half said their income was “unsteady” from week to week.

Meanwhile around 2.5 million households in England struggled to pay their fuel bills in 2015, the latest year for which official figures are available.

Some 11 percent of households faced heating bills that pushed them below the poverty line, a slight increase on 2014. They faced bills on average £350 more than they could pay.

Lone parent households were the worst hit, with 23.6 percent, in difficulties paying the heating bills.

Poor quality, uninsulated homes were often to blame.

Peter Smith of the charity National Energy Action said the continuing rise of fuel poverty was “hugely disappointing” and “not acceptable”.

It’s not just the very poorest who are suffering.

The same hypocritical bosses who warn us that we must “tighten our belts” and “live within our means” are now fretting about an overall fall in consumer spending.

Disposable incomes fell by 1.4 percent in real terms in the first three months of the year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).That’s despite people spending money they would otherwise have saved.

Savings 

The amount set aside for savings has hit its lowest level since records began more than 50 years ago.

The British Bankers’ Association (BBA) also reported a fall in people saving.

But one of the clearest results of the latest British Social Attitudes survey, carried out last year and published this week.

It showed that people have had enough of this squeeze.

Some 48 percent of people want higher taxes to pay for more spending on health, education and benefits. For the first time in a decade this is higher than the number that want taxes to stay the same.

The number of people opposed to helping benefit claimants hit a record low of 21 percent, down from 28 percent in 2015. Benefits for disabled people are now people’s top priority for extra welfare spending—the first time in 30 years that this has not been pensions.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell gave voice to this inside parliament yesterday, Thursday. “So this is the record the chancellor says he’s proud of,” he said.

“Are we proud of a government that cannot feed its population? Let me just say to the honourable members opposite, are they really proud we have a government that can’t adequately house its population?

“That’s a government that doesn't deserve to remain in office.”

The latest figures should be a rallying cry for strikes against the public sector pay cap and pay “restraint” by greedy private sector bosses.

The Tories are in chaos over the pay cap.

MPs voted against a Labour amendment to lift it. But earlier that day a senior Tory source indicated that ministers would review the cap at the next budget. Theresa May’s spokesperson said this was not the case.

Despite this the TUC called off a “Britain still needs a pay rise” rally it had planned for 17 July.  

McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn are set to address the People’s Assembly demonstration in central London tomorrow. Getting a big turnout there is the next step in the fight to end the Tories’ austerity regime.


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