George Osborne’s loyalty to austerity has been criticised yet again this week in light of figures which reveal that wages may no longer cover the cost of living.
Whilst people’s living standards continue to fall, figures from The Office of National Statistics this week have shown that real earnings have also decreased by 1.6% over the past year, with levels this low last being seen at the turn of the century.
The drift between living costs and income is only set to widen further. The gap can be seen in million and more people seeking help from foodbanks in the UK, a figure that would have seemed implausible five years ago.
Poverty and personal economic struggle is no longer just symptomatic of unemployment under the rule of austerity. With only 1 in 40 new jobs being permeant and businesses legally able to rely on zero-hour contracts for their workers, there remains very little job security for those currently in ‘low-wage employment.
It has also been reported that 900,000 jobseeker’s allowance claimants are being threatened with benefits sanctions unless they work for free under various schemes developed by the Department of Work and Pensions. Such draconian and arbitrary schemes have drawn controversial parallels between slave labour in recent months.
Such distressing figures are in stark contrast to the not-so-prevalent plight of the corporate world who remain unwilling to contribute financially to Britain’s recovery in the way that’s require and expected by many.
A recent report from the London School of Economics has found that a quarter of the lowest paid 10% have lost more than 5% of what would have been their income before the coalition’s reforms. However, the top 1% of earners have received a bonus in the top rate of income tax. In response to criticism that George Osborne’s austerity has, instead of creating an economic balance, instead favoured the rich and penalised the poor, Ed Milliband commented that “This country is too unequal and we need to change it.”
Osborne recently commented that “The great recession made our country poorer but the only way to improve living standards is to continue working through the plan that’s delivering a brighter economic future.” Is such a commitment to the continuation of austerity now becoming unjustifiable, particularly as there is an expected £50bn more cuts to be made during the next parliament.
Reported by: Hannah Clapham-Clark