THE just-published Resolution Foundation’s annual audit of living standards shows that the May government, far from seeking to lighten the load of the poor, is driving hard towards ‘the largest rise in inequality since the Parliament when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister’.
It finds that ‘Britain is on course for a major living standards slowdown, with typical households seeing almost no income growth over the remainder of this Parliament.’ Further it finds that the government with its ‘Squeeze on poorer households, rather than an 80s-style boom for the rich, is driving 21st century inequality.’
Its report, Living Standards 2017, shows that the UK’s recent ‘mini-boom’ in living standards – in which typical household incomes (before housing costs) grew by over 2 per cent in both 2014/15 and 2015/16 – has ground to a halt as a result of rising inflation and a plateauing of employment in recent months.’
It adds, ‘Typical household income growth looks set to fall to 1.2 per cent this year (2016/17). The Foundation’s forecast for living standards over the parliament, which combines the OBR’s latest projections for pay, prices and employment with the impact of government policy, shows that this slowdown is set to continue.’
Further, that: ‘Stagnation in pay growth, which is forecast to bite towards the end of 2017 as inflation rises further, coupled with the rollout of more than £12bn of welfare cuts, means that typical household incomes after housing costs are set to grow by a meagre 0.5 per cent a year over the next four years.’
The report indicts the Tories, stating that ‘the unequal impact of the upcoming squeeze is the result of government policy on tax and benefits. While richer households were most affected by the pay squeeze in the wake of the financial crisis, the report shows that the richest fifth of households are set to enjoy small incomes gains of around 4 per cent over the next four years, while incomes across the entire poorest half of households are set to fall by an average of 3 per cent.
‘This would make the current parliament the worst on record for low and middle households since comparable records began in the 1960s, with poorer families with children particularly affected. A typical family with children is set to have a lower disposable income (after housing costs) in 2020-21 (£18,300 in current prices), than a typical family this year (£18,900).’
It is in this crisis situation, where the May government is consciously setting out to drive living standards backwards to the 1950s, that the trade union leaders are sitting back with their arms folded and actually praising May for her propaganda posture that she wants a ‘fair Britain’.
At the same time as living standards are being driven down, the NHS is being destroyed and threatened with mass closures and privatisation by the 44 STPs established by the May government.
On the issue of social care, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Community Health and Care, David Mowat, has just declared that the way forward is for people to have the same responsibility for looking after their parents as they have for their children.
This is not just back to the 1950s, this is back to the 1900s before the Labour Party was founded and the mass of the people were reacting to massive poverty by forming the mass trade unions and organising mass strikes to raise their living standards. They then went into politics in 1906 when they formed the Labour Party and then in 1945 returned the Attlee government with a message that it had to build a Welfare State.
This is what May and Co are now seeking to destroy. Meanwhile, the trade union leaders seek to make friends with May by allowing movements like the junior doctors to fight alone.
The essence of the crisis situation for workers today is that the current trade union leaders are determined not to defend the basic gains of the working class and must be replaced by a new and revolutionary leadership prepared to call a general strike to bring down the Tories and go forward to a workers government and socialism.
Attlee and Bevan tried to reform capitalism when the task is to get rid of it! On February 11, the ATUA is calling a national conference to discuss these burning questions and organise for action to smash the Tories and go forward to socialism, as the only way to defend the NHS. Make sure you are there!