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One in five of the UK population is living in poverty, more children and pensioners are in poverty now than five years ago, working single parents have been swept fastest into poverty and in-work poverty is on the rise.

That catalogue of calamity is the legacy of all the Conservative and Tory-led governments of the last 10 years, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

And Labour has had the sense to bring the main points to the attention of the public.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margaret Greenwood said: “This report should be a wake-up call for the government.

“Too many people are trapped in low paid insecure work and all too often the social security system fails to give people the support they need.

“The government should make tackling poverty a top priority by providing a living wage of at least £10 an hour for all workers aged 16 and over and create a social security system that treats people with respect and is there for any one of us in our time of need.”

That was Labour’s policy at the last election, of course.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to get Labour policy enacted by the Tories but it will not happen.

The impoverishment of working people has been Tory policy since Margaret Thatcher, Nicholas Ridley and Keith Joseph drew up their plan to smash the power of the unions and hammer living standards back down below the poverty line, back in the 1970s.

Take away a worker’s security and he or she will accept any job at any price, becoming easy prey to exploitation by unscrupulous profiteers.

(So much for the ‘laissez-faire’ economics expounded by Thatcher’s neoliberal philosophy! They rigged it for their own benefit.)

The JRF has put forward its own policy solutions to poverty in the UK, as follows:

“We need as many people as possible to be in good jobs. While the proportion of people in employment has risen consistently for six years, weak local economies in some parts of the country have led to higher unemployment, underemployment and more low pay than in the UK as a whole. This needs to change, with prospects for people in struggling places needing to be prioritised, or progress will stall. In addition, employment among disabled people and carers is still low, and they should be supported to work when they can.

“We need to improve earnings for low-income working families, helping people in the lowest-paid jobs or working part-time. Too many people are stuck in low-paid, insecure jobs, with little chance of progression and too few hours of work to reach a decent living standard. Workers need more security, better training and opportunities to progress, particularly in part-time jobs. In-work poverty must be seen as a critical issue for our economy and given high priority by economic policy-makers.

“We need to strengthen the benefits system so that it provides the anchor that people need in tough times. The current system needs to be improved to ensure it gives adequate support. We also need the system to offer a better service for people using it, and to shift public thinking so that a poverty-fighting social security system is seen as an essential public service and receives sustainable investment.

“We need to increase the amount of low-cost housing available for families on low incomes, and increase support for people with high housing costs. We also need to address the sense of insecurity felt by many people living in the private rented sector.”

Castles in the air.

The Conservatives spent nearly 50 years getting poverty up to the current level.

They’re hardly going to reverse a policy that is working so well for them.

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