‘We want to abolish poverty!’ – says Labour’s John McDonnell

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John McDonnell supporting BA cabin crew in 2017. The Labour Party has pledged to abolish poverty within five years

SPEAKING in Birmingham yesterday morning, Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said: ‘On Tuesday a new Shelter report found 135,000 children will be without a home this Christmas.

‘On the same day an analysis by the Equality Trust showed the UK’s six richest people control as much wealth as the poorest 13 million. It all went to show just how unequal our society is.’

He continued: ‘We want to abolish poverty. That’s why we committed in our manifesto to abolishing in-work poverty within five years.

‘And it’s why we’re replacing the Social Mobility Commission with a Social Justice Commission, because unlike the Tories we don’t believe in tolerating poverty so long as a lucky few can escape it.’

McDonnell stressed: ‘Profiteering through privatisation and the Conservatives’ failure to curb rising bills has cost families nearly £6000 a year since 2010 …

‘So we’ll scrap Universal Credit, stopping its roll-out and putting in place a package of fixes while we design a replacement that’s fit for purpose.

‘Of course that won’t help everyone. We need to raise wages across the country so people don’t need to rely on Universal Credit. That starts with our Real Living Wage – £10 an hour, straight away, for everyone over 16. An average pay rise of up to £6,000 a year. A pay rise for seven and a half million people.

‘For public sector workers, it’s a boost of 5% in the first year of a Labour Government. For others, it’s bringing in trade union bargaining across the economy, to raise wages everywhere. Ending bogus self-employment and investing across the UK in good, sustainable jobs in the industries of the future. A high-wage society is the building block of our vision for a better, more inclusive economy.’

He added: ‘But that’s not the end of it either. Because you’ve heard the Tories and Liberal Democrats over recent weeks telling you that the essentials of life can’t be provided free at the point of use, paid for through taxation. And you’re a dreamer if you think otherwise. . .

‘Of course these things need to be paid for. . .

‘That’s why Labour has a fair approach to tax: raising income tax rates for the top 5% while closing loopholes and taxing income from wealth the same as that from work.

‘And what a difference that could make. Paying for free childcare – saving on average almost £3,000 a year per child. Providing free school meals for all primary school children, saving parents over £400 and ensuring that no child struggles to concentrate because of hunger …

‘Paying for a reduction in rail fares, to keep the cost of living down and encourage more people onto public transport. And paying for free prescriptions, saving those with monthly prescriptions over a hundred pounds a year.

‘We estimate that – just looking at some of our policies – Labour’s plan for real change could save families over £6,700 a year. And that’s before we start talking about righting the injustice done to women born in the 1950s.’