The rise of in-work poverty

An Oklahoma branch of Walmart once asked its employees to donate Thanksgiving food to hungry colleagues. “Hang on,” said incredulous staff, “these people can’t feed their families because you pay pitiful wages, yet it’s up to us to bail them out?”

In the UK this Christmas there are Tory MPs doing Christmas photo ops with food banks and urging us to help those in need. It’s meant to advertise their charity, but it just calls attention to the scandal that so many now depend on food banks to survive. Shockingly, one in six of the people who use the food bank network are in work. In the old days in working-class communities it was taken for granted that if you were willing to work hard you could earn enough to provide your family with at least the basics of life. The rise of “in-work” poverty has destroyed that basic precept: millions working full-time now can’t make ends meet, and have to rely on tax credits, and often food banks. The rise of “a working underclass of charity cases” is a sign of a dysfunctional economy. It is up to politicians to fix it, not call on us to make up for their failure. (Janice Turner, The Times and The Week 15 December 2018).

It seems to be the policy of the UK Tory Party to deliberately make the lives of working men and women so miserable, hungry and hopeless that they work harder. Is that it? Is that the great economic theory behind a relentless policy of misery for all except the rich. Epicurus would, I think, be forecasting serious trouble, and, lo and behold he would have been right! What do the working poor have to lose – vote Brexit, vote change at any cost.
Trouble is the government policy is not the fault of EU politicians. The opportunity for change came at the last election, and the working poor did not vote, or did not vote in big enough numbers.

One Comment

  1. I agree that in work poverty is an increasing problem. I also agree that Brexit and Conservative welfare policies will make the problem worse. But MPs from any party should be able to go to their local food bank without being attacked. Engaging with the community is an essential part of being an MP. Preventing politicians from taking to the people their policies are affecting will only make our problems worse.

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