This is why the BBC tries not to allow socialists onto its current affairs programmes any more.
But it seems that Politics Live bosses couldn’t avoid inviting ‘Bootstrap Cook’ Jack Monroe, who made a name as the author of a guide for people on benefits, trying to feed a family with only pennies to spend on each meal (courtesy of a Tory government that couldn’t care less).
Jack had given evidence on the current cost of living crisis to the Commons Work and Pensions committee on the morning of March 9, and subsequently appeared on the programme to explain the problems people at the lowest level of society are facing – and the reasons for them.
Here’s what was said:
There’s so much good material here – that the Tory government would undoubtedly wish to suppress:
- Every pound spent on a child’s health now will save £220 in the future (according to a recent study) – investment in early years education, free school meals, milk for kids and warm, safe, decent homes leads to saving on healthcare, justice and social support.
- 4.1 million people in the UK are living in poverty, and 4.5 million in fuel poverty. The last number is set to rise to 6.5 million next month (April), when new energy prices are imposed by the privatised energy firms – and to 8.5 million by October. That means around one-eighth of the population of the UK won’t be able to afford to heat their homes properly.(And this doesn’t include the cost to businesses, that are not protected from the full force of the price rises by Ofgem’s cap.)
- In the UK, 80 people were dying every day as a result of living in cold homes – before Covid-19 and the economic hits that people have taken since, meaning that figure is certain to become much worse.
- A rapid government intervention is needed to life people out of poverty, allow them to heat their homes, feed themselves and their families and to prevent them from dying.
Jack said: “The Chancellor can find a whole orchard of magic money trees for his pet projects and the things that he deems to be worthy: ‘Eat Out to Help Out’, writing off furlough fraud. He needs to dig around in that orchard and find some money for people who don’t have the same recourse, don’t have the same voice, don’t necessarily have the same lobbying power – and that’s children, disabled people, vulnerable people, elderly people, and act in their best interests as well.”
Here’s a vital point: “If people had listened when those of us who started to raise the issue [did so] a decade ago, we certainly wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in now.”
Also: “The policy groups… today… the Resolution Foundation, the Social Policy Forum… they all advocated a one-off cash lump sum of around £500 to help lift people out of the cost of living crisis… in a mirror of what America did during the pandemic; to give all their citizens £500, to let them make all the judgement calls and decisions themselves about how best to rescue their household budgets and how best to sort out the situations that they are in.
“People who are in the lowest income deciles, when you give them money, it goes back into their local economies. If you give people who earn the top 0.1 per cent of wages in the UK money, it disappears off to the Cayman Islands. So giving people a one-off lump sum payment in order to dig themselves out of whatever holes they’re in isn’t just something that us mad left-wingers are banging on about, it’s what the government’s own think-tanks and policymakers are avidly recommending.”
Paul Scully, Tory minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, said the government had increased its euphemistic ‘National Living Wage’ by the highest cash terms ever. But this is a burden place upon businesses – not on the government itself; no Tory minister has explained where most firms are going to find the money to pay this increase, on top of paying energy bills for which the standing charge alone may have increased by 500 per cent, at a time when their customers are unlikely to be able to afford their services due to their own struggle to pay the bills.
Then he said: “It’s right that we actually make sure that we’re not recovering our economy on the back of the lowest-paid.”
Labour’s Jim McMahon contradicted him, pointing out that this is exactly what is happening: “BP and Shell have made record profits but they’re not being asked to contribute more; it’s households that are being asked to contribute more.”
Scully said the government wanted the energy giants to invest their huge profits in diversification away from fossil fuel – an admirable ambition, but is there any evidence that they are actually bothering to do it?
And Jack Monroe came back with the clincher: “I really have to take issue with the fact that you said that the government are not going to recover the economy off the back of the lowest-paid people, because that has been Conservative policy for the last 12 years. b
“Austerity-led ideology has meant that the people who have the least in this country have routinely been asked to shoulder the burdens of the bank bailouts and of all of the policies that consecutive Conservative governments have put in place – to reduce welfare payments, to reduce the support that is available for the poorest and most vulnerable people and the lowest-income households.
“The economy has been rebuilt … on the bodies of the dead people who are no longer with us because they have been failed by the Department for Work and Pensions.”
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