HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
AUSTRALIA: 8 YEARS OF ABUSIVE OFFSHORE
15 JULY 2021
SEE FOR THE WHOLE TEXT, NOTE 7
‘On September 23, Truss looked on as Kwasi Kwarteng—her chancellor of the Exchequer, political soulmate, and personal friend—put forward a “mini budget” that would cut taxes on top earners, remove a cap on bankers’ bonuses, and cancel a planned corporate-tax hike. ”
”The left-wing opposition hated it—tax cuts for millionaires as Middle Britain struggled with high energy bills, rampant inflation, and rising mortgage costs—but so did the financial markets.”
THE PRIME MINISTER WHO DID EVERYTHING WRONG
18 OCTOBER 2022
SEE FOR THE WHOLE TEXT, NOTE 3
TORY DISDAIN FOR THE POOR IS FUELLING UK’S
COST OF LIVING CRISIS
23 MAY 2022
The British working class is struggling because this country is being led by a party whose members have nothing but contempt for the poor.
Britain’s cost of living crisis is spiralling out of control. The rise in food and energy bills is swiftly outstripping the disposable income of thousands of families, forcing them to make impossible choices between heating their homes, buying groceries, or putting aside money for their work commute.
According to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), more than 250,000 households across the country will fall into “destitution” as early as next year – taking the number of those living in extreme poverty to a whopping 1.2 million – if the government does not take immediate action to help struggling families.
It did not have to be this way. Think-tanks, activists, opposition politicians, and frankly everyone with any understanding of the myriad struggles facing Britain’s working-class communities have long been urging the Tory government to reverse its post-Brexit welfare cuts, increase universal credit, and make small, one-off cash payments to those in most need to stop poverty levels skyrocketing in one of the world’s leading economies.
Regrettably, the government chose to do the exact opposite. In October 2021, as the nation was still struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences, for example, it slashed universal credit payments by 20 British pounds ($25) a week, leaving countless vulnerable Britons unable to pay their bills and put food on their table.
And this April, as skyrocketing energy prices added more urgency to an already devastating crisis, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said it would be “silly” for the government to provide more help to struggling families now. Despite households across the country facing an average £700 ($879) increase in their gas and electricity bills immediately after April, with another 50 percent spike expected in October, Sunak – whose family is worth more than £700 million ($879 million) – said he won’t act before “knowing what the situation will be in autumn”.
These days, when criticised for not doing enough quickly enough to address the cost of living crisis, Sunak points to the so-called £200 ($251) energy bill “discount” he arranged for British households to receive on their bill in October. This, however, as many repeatedly pointed out, is not a “grant” but a “loan”, meaning people will be forced to pay it back to the state starting in 2023 – in other words, whatever respite the “discount” may provide now will be cancelled once the government demands it back a few months later.
Earlier this month, after the Office for National Statistics revealed that inflation reached 9 percent in the year to April – the highest one-year increase in more than 30 years – Sunak said, “Countries around the world are dealing with rising inflation … We cannot protect people completely from these global challenges”.
There is no denying that it is not only Britain that is facing a cost of living crisis today. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the conflict in Ukraine, several challenges came together to brew a perfect storm, increasing the economic vulnerability of the poorest communities across the globe.
Nevertheless, it is also dishonest to deny that our current government has a particular disinterest in helping the poorest and most vulnerable in society. And this is causing the British working class and the poor to suffer more during this time of global economic upheaval than their counterparts in other developed economies.
In Britain, fully employed nurses say they rely on food banks to feed their families.
In Britain, pensioners say they ride the bus all day, every day to remain warm because they can no longer afford to pay their energy bills.
In Britain, new mothers say they skip meals to be able to buy their babies’ formula.
And this is not a problem affecting only an unfortunate few. The Trussell Trust, an NGO that works to end the need for food banks in the UK, said food banks in their network distributed 2.1 million emergency food parcels from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022 – a 14 percent increase from the previous year. Eight-hundred-and-thirty-thousand of these parcels were provided for children. According to research by the Food Foundation, in this country “around one in seven adults live in homes where people have skipped meals, eaten smaller portions or gone hungry all day because they could not afford or access food.”
Despite all this, those in government act as if all this suffering was inevitable. Worse, they claim that the desperate situation many of us working-class Britons find ourselves in is our own fault – a consequence of our supposed inability to live our lives efficiently.
Recently, Conservative MP Lee Anderson argued in the House of Commons, without a hint of irony, that food banks are mostly “unnecessary” because the leading cause of food poverty is not actual poverty but a lack of cooking and budgetary skills.
While his tone-deaf comments attracted much condemnation from the public, opposition MPs, and campaigners, his Conservative colleagues rushed to support him, showing that they share his misguided beliefs about food poverty.
MP Brendan Clarke-Smith, for example, penned an entire op-ed for the Daily Express newspaper explaining why Anderson’s offensive comments on food banks were actually “completely spot on”. Meanwhile, MP Jacob Rees Mogg – who once claimed food banks are “rather uplifting” as they show what a “compassionate” country Britain is – said he would not have made Anderson’s comments, but only because he “cannot cook” himself.
Britain’s cost of living crisis is undoubtedly part of a larger pattern. Nevertheless, millions of working-class Britons are not struggling to heat their homes and feed their children in the world’s fifth-largest economy simply because of “global challenges”.
They are struggling because this country is being led through this crisis by a party whose members have nothing but contempt and disdain for the poor.
END OF THE ARTICLE
”Tens of thousands of families in the United Kingdom every year do not have enough food to live on and are turning to sources of non-state charitable aid. This new phenomenon of growing hunger for some of the least well-off people in the country, has emerged alongside a wide-ranging and draconian restructuring of the country’s welfare system since 2010. With reductions in welfare support year on year, the number of people, including families with children, going hungry is rising at an alarming rate and represents a troubling development in the world’s fifth largest economy.”
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHNOTHING LEFT IN THE CUPBOARDSAUSTERITY, WELFARE CUTS AND THERIGHT TO FOOD IN THE UK2019
SOCIALIST PARTYEND TORY WAR ON POOR6 DECEMBER 2017https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/26573/06-12-2017/end-tory-war-on-poor/
Just weeks after Chancellor Phillip Hammond boasted that Tory MPs had never had it so good, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published an explosive report showing the rest of us are suffering through the first sustained rise in child and pensioner poverty for 20 years.The report showed that 14 million people in the UK – over 20% of the population – are living below the poverty line, struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.This figure includes four million children now living below the poverty line in households that cannot meet their basic needs. These children are less likely to do well at school and more likely to suffer from health problems compared to their richer counterparts, pushing them into a cycle of poverty that spans generations.Even for those in work, the report shows that insecure and poorly paid employment does not keep people out of poverty.Despite Tory lies, eight million people in poverty live in families where at least one person is in work. One in eight workers – 3.7 million people – are living pay cheque to pay cheque, spending most of their income on extortionate rents.The fight for an end to zero-hour contracts and for a real living wage is more crucial than ever. While workers make huge profits for the bosses, our families are falling into poverty.Theresa May’s desperate empty promise to tackle society’s “burning injustices” is now embarrassing even Tory advisers. Her entire ‘social mobility’ team has quit over the government’s lack of actionAs the Tories forge ahead with cuts to benefits alongside the disastrous Universal Credit programme, they are forcing millions more into poverty, debt and homelessness.This cruel government has limped on for long enough. Its political agenda of austerity and privatisation has contributed to the deaths of over 120,000 people.The Tories – aided in many cases by the Blairites – have committed what the researchers who produced that figure have called “economic murder.” They have forced children into poverty, the effects of which will follow these young people throughout their lives.The power to bring this government to its knees lies with workers. We must fight for coordinated strikes to bring down the Tories, and for democratic workers’ control of the economy. Socialist policies can reverse the shameful rise in poverty shown in this report.
END OF THE ARTICLE
”Article 9The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance.”
”Article 111. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation based on free consent.”INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS HAS BEEN SIGNED AND RATIFIED BY THE UNITED KINGDOM![SIGNED 1968, RATIFIED IN 1976]International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 16 Sep 196820 May 1976http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/research/ratification-greatbritain.html