FURLOUGH ended today, with 1.6 million estimated to be still on the scheme while next Wednesday, the Tories will slash Universal Credit by £20 a week.
Under these twin hammer blows, an estimated 2.5 million people will be forced to choose between heating and eating this winter.
1.5 million will be unable to afford rent or mortgage repayments and at least 100,000 renting households will face eviction, according to housing charity Crisis.
Yesterday, Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £500 million support plan to help those ‘most in need’.
This fund, which will only run over winter, will be distributed to councils in England as small grants to help families pay for food, clothing and utilities.
£500 million is less than one tenth of the amount, £6 billion, that just about kept families from starvation during the pandemic.
Handing this derisory amount to local councils to hand out to the ‘deserving poor’ is a return to the 19th century, to the days of the poor laws, workhouses and workers forced to beg for handouts to keep their kids from starving.
The working class fought against this in the 19th century, building illegal trade unions in a bitter struggle against the employers and governments of the day.
In that period British capitalism with its vast empire was in a position where it could afford to make concessions to the working class.
Today, British capitalism is bankrupt and drowning in debt and crisis.
No concessions are possible. Instead the ruling class are now bent on destroying every single gain made by workers in the past, turning workers into beggars, queuing up cap-in-hand outside council offices to beg for crumbs.
The Tories insist that this is only a temporary crisis and will be overcome as soon as the working class is forced back to work for poverty level wages.
Inflation spiralling out of control with energy prices going through the roof, petrol stations without petrol and supermarkets running out of food are all dismissed as hiccups in the smooth running of capitalism.
No such optimism was shown by Andrew Bailey, head of the Bank of England, this week.
Standing alongside Jay Powell (head of the US Federal Reserve) and Christine Lagarde of the European Central Bank, Bailey predicted long-term disruption and chaos.
Bailey is forced to recognise that the pound has dramatically fallen on the currency markets as the international financiers react against the ‘stagflation’ that is gripping the UK economy.
Stagflation is the situation where the economy is in recession while at the same time inflation is raging.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the situation is serious with ‘Analysts warning that Britain’s stagflation crisis is set to intensify as fuel shortages dent the government’s reputation for competence.’ These international financiers, who buy up government bonds and so finance government spending, are scared that the Tories will not be able to impose on the working class the poverty resulting from inflation and recession.
They are turning away from buying UK bonds, searching for other ‘safe havens’ for their billions, leaving the Tory government facing running out of money in the very near future, unable to finance spending and in danger of defaulting on existing debt.
This is the explosive crisis taking place today – a capitalist system whose only hope of survival depends on driving millions of workers and youth back to the conditions of the 19th century.
Workers will never accept this but will recognise that it is capitalism that must perish not the working class.
The principal ally of the capitalist class in this crisis is the rotten reformist leadership in the unions and Labour Party.
The days and weeks ahead will see an explosive development in the class struggle pitting a powerful working class against a weak Tory government only propped up by the refusal of the trade union leaders to bring it down.
The only solution to this crisis is to resolve the crisis of leadership in the working class by building a new revolutionary leadership prepared to organise a general strike to kick out the Tories and go forward to a workers’ government and socialism.
Only the WRP fights for this policy – join today.