OFFICIAL figures released today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show what every working person in the country knows, that prices in all the basic commodities necessary for life are shooting up while wages are being cut.
The statistics show that inflation in the UK is steadily rising, since July the annual rate of inflation as calculated by the consumer price index (CPI), has risen to 2.6% with the forecast that it will reach 3% in the coming months.
At a time when wages have been held down to a miserable 1% for public sector workers for over four years, it means that workers and their families are being forced to choose what bills, if any, they can afford to pay.
It is becoming a choice between food, rents or clothing for many people. Even these stark figures do not tell the whole story however. CPI as a measure of inflation does not include in its calculations things like housing costs and council tax amongst other essential costs borne by working people.
When these are included, as they are in the other measure of inflation, the Retail Price Index (RPI), the rate of real inflation is much higher. Using RPI the annual rate of inflation reached 3.5% in July, outstripping wages by even more than the ONS is claiming.
The Tories use the lower CPI figure when it comes to calculating the money it has to pay out, for instance inflation linked pensions, but when it comes to money it can get from people it uses the higher RPI.
This can be seen clearly in the case of rail fares, the increases for next year are to be announced today. These increases will be based on the higher RPI figure, meaning that workers forced to travel by train to work will see even more of their wages eaten up and handed to the privatised rail bosses.
The rail union, RMT, reported yesterday that rail fares are rising almost twice as fast as wages.
The RMT analysis ‘shows that rail fares have risen by around 32% in eight years while the average weekly earnings have only grown by 16%.’
This means that workers like firefighters and nurses forced to live outside London and commute in could be paying 20% of their wages on travel. RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, said: ‘Government policy of suppressing workers’ wages while at the same time presiding over corporate welfare on our privatised railway has resulted in a toxic combination of fare rises easily outstripping wages.’
It’s not just rail fares that are outstripping wages. A study this week into shopping trends in the country warned that household spending in shops and supermarkets is about to collapse. The study warns of ‘darker days’ ahead for industry and shops as: ‘The consumer has been living on borrowed time and borrowed money.’
The austerity cuts and wage freezes that have seen the average take-home pay of workers cut by up to £4,000 a year since 2010 has forced families to borrow from credit cards, pay day loan companies and other forms of unsecured debt just to survive.
With inflation now sharply rising the situation is becoming intolerable for millions of people who have fast reached the conclusion that capitalism’s time is up. This bankrupt capitalist system, that can only survive by pauperising the working class and attempting to drive it back to the conditions of the 19th century, has reached the end of the road.
The only way forward is to overthrow capitalism through the socialist revolution. At their annual conference next month workers must demand that the leadership of the TUC immediately organises a general strike to kick out the Tories and replace it with a workers government that will carry out a socialist programme of nationalising industry and the banks and placing them under the control of the working class.
The WRP and Young Socialists will be lobbying the TUC on Monday 11th September fighting for this demand – we call on all workers and young people to join this lobby and join the WRP to build the revolutionary leadership that is necessary to lead the struggle for power.