NURSES, firefighters, and teachers are so badly paid that many are doing second jobs in order to survive! A vast majority rely on in-work benefits, many are driven to food-banks to feed their families.
Now the Local Goverment Ombudsman’s ‘No Place Like Home’ report shows that many full time wage workers have got so far behind with their rent that they are now facing eviction! This is now part of the fastest growing sector of the population – the working poor. Workers’ incomes have fallen so far below the poverty line that many are faced with deciding whether to heat, eat or pay the rent. However they do not have enough money to do all three, leaving them and their families to freeze, go hungry or face the threat of eviction.
You now have the true horror of capitalism – the new working poor being transformed into the working homeless. One example in the report, Alan, who is 51 and has a biology degree from the University of Glasgow, works full-time as a teaching assistant in a London school. He is homeless!
Stories like his are becoming common. Charity workers warn they are seeing more people who are holding down jobs while homeless, working shifts each day before returning to night shelters or the streets as the coldest winter in five years approaches.
To make matters worse, they face another type of cruel freeze. The Tories have just announced that millions of people will have their benefits frozen for another 12 months from April in a move that will cost a typical working family with two children about £300 a year.
Figures released by the government earlier in the week show that 79,190 homeless households are stuck in temporary accommodation, a 50 per cent increase from five years ago. This includes 121,360 homeless children, a 61 per cent increase from 75,460 five years ago.
Ombudsman Michael King produced his report yesterday showing that even where families have a breadwinner who has a stable job, they, too, are at risk of homelessness. This is because of spiralling rents and soaring inflation, yet wages are being cut, frozen or increased by just 1%.
Nurses are among those ending up evicted by private-sector landlords, King’s report states, along with taxi drivers, hospitality staff and council workers. The privatisation of council housing, demolition of entire council estates and building of private flats for the super rich, have all created a perfect storm where those who do become homeless, rather than being permanently re-housed, are put into bed and breakfasts or hostels, languishing there, in some cases, for months, and in most cases years.
King’s report in particular slammed the councils for re-housing homeless families in damp, filthy and dangerous conditions in temporary accommodation. He said: ‘You do not have to look to Victorian fiction to see totally Dickensian housing conditions.’
In one example: A couple with two young children, spent 26 weeks in a single room in a B&B, the shower did not work and the room was infested with cockroaches. This is not unsimilar to the slum conditions that workers were forced to live in in the 19th Century described in Frederick Engels’ book ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844’.
In the book Engels writes: ‘The only difference as compared with the old, outspoken slavery is this, that the worker of today seems to be free because he is not sold once for all, but piecemeal by the day, the week, the year, and because no one owner sells him to another, but he is forced to sell himself in this way instead, being the slave of no particular person, but of the whole property-holding class.’
This gets to the essence of the crisis, that capitalism is indeed a form of wage-slavery, where the ones who own everything and do nothing, a tiny minority, profit from the vast majority, who own nothing but do all the work.
Today, the rulers of capitalism cannot and will not even provide the most basic requirements of life – shelter, food, and heating. This system therefore deserves to perish. The working class is stronger then the ruling class. It however lacks a revolutionary leadership. Now is the time to join the WRP and build the revolutionary leadership to mobilise the working class to carry out its historic role, to overthrow the ruling class and establish a socialist society so that those that produce the wealth will have access to it along with their families.