Emma Lewell-Buck: Tories have put too many living in poverty

Low pay means many families live in poverty.
Low pay means many families live in poverty.

As the Tories tear themselves apart over Brexit and the media’s obsession with it dominates the airwaves, a series of recent reports has laid bare the absolute devastation this Government’s tenure has imposed so far on the people of this country. Every single day that passes is a day where they do more harm, reversing all of the positive measures put in place under the last Labour Government.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation recently published its State of the Nation report, which shows there are 14.3 million people, a fifth of the population, living in poverty with eight million of those being in working families.

The report blames ‘low paid work with little progression’. It has been clear for years now that low paid, insecure work, zero hours contracts and the rise of the gig economy coupled with total inaction from Government has led to an expanding gulf between income and the rising cost of living.

In Tory Britain, work is no longer a route out of poverty, as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights found on his recent visit to the UK.

His damming report said that the Tories are “in a state of denial” over poverty, and that “poverty is a political choice”, “austerity could easily have spared the poor, if the political will had existed to do so”.

This was followed by findings from the National Education Union, where teachers across England grappling with staggering cuts to school budgets, are reporting children coming to school hungry, living in unsuitable accommodation and without warm clothing. Poverty and disadvantage are now becoming the norm not the exception for our children.

Crisis, a homeless charity, has found that this Christmas, more than 12,000 people will be sleeping rough on the streets of Britain whilst a further 12,000 will spend the night in tents, cars, sheds, bins or night buses.

Since 2010, the number of rough sleepers in Britain has risen by 98% and in England by a staggering 120%.

More than 123,600 children in England will also spend Christmas housed in temporary accommodation, a 70 % increase since 2010.

Over nine million people in the UK – almost a fifth of the population – say they are always or often lonely, and Age UK has reported that two fifths of all older people say that television is their main companion. Yet the Tories are removing funding in 2020 for the free television licence for the over 75s and leaving the BBC to decide what happens next.

For too many people, Christmas is a very difficult and lonely time. Please keep them in your thoughts and if you are able to make even the smallest of gestures, it really can make a difference.

These amazing local agencies below are just some who work all year round in Shields making a difference to peoples’ lives, please contact them if you know of someone in need.

Support for urgent mental health difficulties : Initial Response Team – phone: 0303 123 1145.

South Tyneside Homes (if you have an emergency call 0300 123 6633.

South Tyneside Council Services : Customer Contact Centre (0191 427 7000).

When the Customer Contact Centre is closed during the Christmas period, please call the emergency out of hours number on 0191 455 6111 in an emergency only.