Letter – The Tory government is undoing decades of social progress – Mick Roberts

We will be reproducing letters written to the Crewe Chronicle written by our very own activists. This way we can preserve those letters for your viewing leisure. This is the second of 2 from prominent activist and trade unionist Mick Roberts. Hope you enjoy.

Sunday 11th March 2018

Dear Editor,

Worrying new research on household income levels reveals that over half of those now classed as living in poverty are from working households. Ruinous government policies are hurting millions of working families. For too many people work does not pay in Tory Britain. In Crewe 1 in 5 workers earn less than the Living Wage and our town has dense areas of child poverty with 4,000 children living in poverty.

Over the last four decades our politicians have, in conspiring around a laissez-faire economic model, let working people down. Whilst we were told the free market would benefit everyone all it has delivered is soaring wealth inequality, wage stagnation, poor growth, rip-off privatisations and unquestionably the single biggest calamity – the global financial crisis caused by de-regulating the financial industry. A staggering 14 million men, women and children now live in poverty and over half of these are in a household with at least one member in paid work. Most workers in Britain today are earning less, in real terms, than they were a decade ago.

Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn, recognises these failings and the need to upgrade our economy so that it works in the interests of the many. Solving the challenge of in-work poverty needs a balanced economy and an industrial strategy that encompasses low pay sectors like hospitality and retail, not just innovative, high-tech employment sectors. Those in poorly paid, insecure jobs and part-time work need state support to break free from the restrictions of poverty.

Why in the fifth richest economy in the world do we have working parents worrying about whether they can feed and clothe their children and struggling to afford basic necessities.

The problem of low pay is increasingly dominating the domestic policy agenda. In-work poverty is now one of the most important challenges we face. Understanding and addressing its underlying causes must be a priority for our politicians.

It is a cruel lie for the Tories to claim that government is powerless against the rise of in-work poverty. In truth it is their harsh policies that are creating much of the problem. From the mid-1990s cash transfers from the state (tax credits) helped keep inequality between working households in check. Under the Tories things are very different, with support cut back under unnecessary austerity. The PM’s vow to place fairness and social justice at the heart of her premiership is nothing more than a cruel joke at the expense of those with the least.

Social mobility is not some fluffy concept, it is the wish to see our kids do better than ourselves. Early-years investment in our children is decisive in terms of improving working class children’s life chances. Undoubtedly then the biggest indicator of the Tories contempt
for social justice is that they have halved funding for early-years children’s services in many areas since coming to power.

In Britain over 4 million children live in poverty with the number likely to rise. The Tories are undoing decades of social progress. We need a Labour government that will at once start to address the structural reasons behind inequality and can once again begin delivering the much-needed improvements in social justice.

The basic right for every family should be a safe, warm home and a decent income?

If we want to live in a fair society then political and economic democracy must go hand in hand. Labour is right to make the case that the economy is not working in the interests of ordinary working people and that we need radical change. Britain needs a government that is serious about reforming our rigged systems to ensure the rewards of future economic growth do not simply continue to flow into the pockets of the few.

Yours sincerely,
Mick Roberts
Labour Party member

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