By Sarah Bates
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2084

Tories inflict hunger on millions of the poorest

The Tories' austerity regime is leading to thousands more going hungry
Issue 2084
The Tories are letting hunger and poverty run rampant

Foodbanks can’t bridge the crisis of hunger the Tories have unleashed

A wave of hunger is sweeping across Britain, causing millions of people to be unable to eat every day. Research by The Food Foundation charity show a startling rise in food insecurity in just three months. In April, some 12.8 percent of households—encompassing  6.8 million adults—couldn’t afford to eat at every meal time, or were eating smaller portions.

The triple crises of rising food prices, soaring energy bills and below-inflation benefit rates threaten the health of the poorest in society. And it’s happen at a startling rate—in just three months, there’s been a 57 percent jump in the proportion of households cutting back on food. The charity called on the government to increase benefits in line with inflation, make healthy good more affordable, and to expand free school meals.

Anne Taylor, The Food Foundation executive director, said the research “points to a catastrophic situation for families”. “The situation is rapidly turning from an economic crisis to a health crisis. Food banks cannot possibly be expected to solve this,” she said. “The government needs to realise the boat is sinking for many families and it needs to be fixed.”

This is just the beginning of the latest brutal phase of the cost of living crisis. Last month’s bill rises, which are driven by the greed of energy fat cats, hadn’t even fully taken effect when the Food Foundation data was collected. We need resistance. In Maryhill, a suburb of Glasgow, residents ­organised a protest against energy bills outside their local power station.

Residents gathered outside SSE’s Wyndford district heating plant on Monday last week to demand the firm reduce energy costs. They were told that when the plant was built in 2011 it would slash costs, yet bills have recently soared by 50 percent. Energy produced by the plant is sold to the National Grid and the hot water left over in the process is piped into the 1,800 homes on the nearby estate.

Resident Nick Durie said, “People’s incomes are really stretched and there was already a problem of poverty here. They really shouldn’t be raising prices, especially since they have no costs for providing our heating.”

There is a mood, expressed in Maryhill but also seen elsewhere, to resist the endless profiteering from the energy fat cats and the system they represent. Every opportunity to take the fight to the Tories and ramp up pressure on the government to act must be grasped with both hands.

Workers and students should join the many thousands who are set to march over the cost of living in London on 18 June. The demonstration is called by the TUC union federation. It could be a roar of defiance against Tory brutality. And it must be a launchpad for the strikes and ­further mass demonstrations we need.

  • We Demand Better demonstration, Sat 18 June, assemble 10.30am, Portland Place, London, march leaves 12 noon, rally 1pm, Parliament Square. Details and transport at bit.ly/TUC1806

Queen’s speech offers misery 

The queen’s speech on Tuesday was set to be  an opportunity for Boris Johnson’s government to unleash another wave of attacks. And Johnson will be looking for ways to re-assert his premiership after last week’s devastating local election losses.

The Schools Bill is set to push for schools to join multi-academy trusts, and change how funding is allocated. The Ofsted inspection regime is also set to be given more powers. In a British Bill of Rights the government wants to make it easier to deport migrants with convictions. Other legislation will allow British judges to ignore rulings from the European court of human rights.

And the Tories are also set to push through their ban on conversion therapy, but this won’t apply to trans people. But what’s really striking is what’s missing. There is no effective action on the climate emergency or any fundamental changes to deal with soaring poverty and hardship. There is nothing on workers’ rights or to tackle sexism and racism. This is predictable, but still an outrage.

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