No doubt the anti-Labour brigade will roll up to trash this article but it deserves an airing, if only because so many children are in poverty and homeless already.
According to Shelter, the number of homeless families increased from 80,000 at Christmas 2013 to 93,000 last Christmas – that’s a rise of 16.5 per cent.
But the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats want to tell you that poverty has dropped, because it is calculated as a percentage of wages, and wages have fallen – meaning fewer people earn the lowered amount that now counts as the poverty level.
Against that background, here’s Fiona Twycross, writing on LabourList:
One of the greatest confidence tricks of this government has been the demonisation of the poor and the remarkable feat of setting people on low income against each other while overseeing a continued rise of inequality. This inequality means that just two days in to the working year, on ‘Fat Cat Tuesday’ as it was dubbed by the High Pay Centre, top executives had earned £27,000, the equivalent of a year’s average earnings. Meanwhile, the number of people in work but earning poverty pay is rising.
After a week when some commentators have suggested there is little difference between the main parties, it is worth reminding ourselves of the need to place our Labour values to the core of what we say over the next few months. Not just for those conversations we will be having on the doorstep but to remind ourselves why we have to fight for a Labour victory.
Child poverty is not inevitable. It is possible to reduce it. Labour reduced the numbers of children living in poverty by 800,000 when we were in power. Not only does the Government have a statutory duty to end child poverty by 2020 [it seems the plan is to cut wages to a point where even the lowest-paid no longer count as in poverty, according to the yardstick mentioned above – meaning we’ll all be struggling], from a moral perspective as well, it has to be our goal to eliminate it.
I am tired of people suggesting that it might not do us any harm to be in opposition for a few more years. It might not do some of us harm individually but it would do massive harm to the most vulnerable in society. If we are unhappy at what has happened to the fabric of our society in the past five years, we need to be clear that a future Conservative-led government or coalition would take us further down their road to ruin.
The legacy of poverty in childhood stays with people throughout their lives. With millions of children already living in poverty, and all indications showing that many more are likely to join them unless the political direction of travel in this country changes, we are facing the fight not just for a Labour victory but for these children to have a better future.
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