Everything you need to know about Cameron’s idea of economic recovery was summed up by the front page the Mirror this morning. 1 million food parcels have been handed out to hungry Britons, in the world’s sixth largest economy, and at a time that the economy is growing. What price economic ‘recovery’?
The Rise of the Food Bank
According to a recent survey, 913,138 were forced to turn to The Trussell Trust for emergency food aid last year – three times the 346,992 requiring such help the previous year. More than 330,000 of these emergency parcels went to children. On top of this, another 182,000 food parcels are being donated each year by just 45 independent food banks, according to a recent survey.
The Coalition government’s Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith continues to claim that such destitution has nothing to do with ideological austerity. When the Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust came forward with data revealing the gravity of the situation – IDS responded in writing. His letter read:
“I strongly refute this claim and would politely ask you to stop scaremongering in this way,”
But the figures don’t lie. Users of food banks cannot just show up for a free meal because they feel like it. They must be referred by local agencies. Users report the top 3 reasons for requiring food parcels as:
This means that more than half of those reliant on emergency food aid require it because the welfare to which they are entitled is being stalled – or they are employed on poverty wages. And another fifth have been plunged into destitution by welfare cuts.
Economic Recovery for Whom?
All of the people responsible for the Financial Crisis are getting richer. The leaders of the Financial Services sector, their employees, and the politicians who refused to regulate them. Every last one, laughing all the way to the bank.
But what of the people who had nothing to do with trading dodgy derivatives until they crashed the global economy? They are getting poorer, and fast.
- Wages have been falling 2.2% each year – for the longest period in 50 years
- NHS nurses received a below inflation 1% pay rise this year.
- One million people relied on food parcels
The government even had the nerve to declare the cost of living crisis over this week – claiming wages are almost matching the rate of inflation. They were backed in celebration by much of the mainstream media – BBC Newsnight presenter Laura Kuenssberg even tweeting:
Does the cost of living debate still have merit? Are they kidding?
What they don’t say, is that inflation figure of 1.6% means nothing to most people. Tt includes a range of goods and services that most people cannot afford to buy – in short, the government is tracking the prices of the wrong things.
The Essentials Index, tracking prices of the basic goods and services that the majority of low and middle income people buy shows a 33% rate of inflation since 2008 – far exceeding the 1.6% rise in prices for the wealthy. What this means is not only are incomes falling for the majority, but prices are rising disproportionately for them too. The cost of living crisis is real, and worsening.
This is not an economic recovery. It is plunder.
In the words of Trussell Trust chief Chris Mould:
“It’s close to triple the numbers helped last year, shocking in 21st century Britain. But perhaps most worrying of all is this figure is just the tip of the iceberg of UK food poverty.
“It doesn’t include those helped by other emergency food providers, those in towns where there is no food bank, people too ashamed to seek help or the large number who are only just coping by eating less and buying cheap food.
“In the last year we’ve seen things get worse, rather than better, for many people on low incomes. It’s been extremely tough for a lot of people, with parents not eating properly in order to feed their children and more people than ever experiencing unfair and harsh benefits sanctions.
“Unless there is determined policy action to ensure the benefits of national economic recovery reach people on low incomes we won’t see life get better for the poorest anytime soon.”
Cameron’s idea of an economic recovery has nothing to do with you. He is not seeking to improve working people’s wages, improve our education system, make public transport lower cost and more efficient, improve the healthcare services of the nation – none of this. When Cameron says the words ‘economic recovery’ he means: for the capitalist class. The owners, the bankers, the executives, the politicians. Everyone else exists to serve that purpose.