By Lucette Davies
Since this time last week around 11,000 of the poorest households in Eastbourne will have had their Universal Credit cut by £20/ week. At the same time prices are soaring particularly for fuel to heat our homes. I have said before that Britain is broken, but after having joined the People’s Assembly Festival of Resistance I have never been so sure of this.
The festival was a protest around the Tory party conference in Manchester. Obviously there was a huge focus on the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill which could result in protestors receiving prison sentences. But what struck me most of all was how in so many of the speaker events we were told of staggering amounts of tax payers money being squandered by a Government which just doesn’t care.
Imagine our NHS if the £38bn spent on a test and trace system that doesn’t work had been spent on delivering care. Or if we had invested the £2.1bn that was spent on faulty PPE into building council housing. The cut to UC will save the country £44bn but we are throwing £98bn away on HS2. Poverty however costs the country, people get sick through poverty, go into debt and become homeless through poverty. It is unlikely this cut to UC will save anywhere near £44bn when we take into account all the consequences of the cut. We have seen the number of children placed into care increase by 40% recently. That is not just 40% more expense for the state, it is a massive increase in broken lives.
I have come away from Manchester with a clear understanding that the problem is not that our Government doesn’t understand the harm they are doing to ordinary people. The problem is that they don’t care about the harm they are doing. They have a different set of priorities to most of the people that elected them. A fact so clearly evidenced by Boris Johnson’s statement that it doesn’t matter about life expectancy or cancer outcomes because we have wage growth.
We have wage growth because there is a massive labour shortage now in the UK. This is why we have empty shelves in our supermarkets and the army drafted in to deliver fuel to our garages. It is why we now destroy British pork and import from the EU because we have no workers to process it.
The UK continues to sell arms to countries known to abuse human rights. And the tax payer is subsidising this. We provide financial support to Israel ignoring their genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. The Police Crime Courts and Sentencing Bill as well as threatening to take away our human right to protest poses a serious threat to traveller communities.
Our entire system is broken. And it is only going to come right by the people uniting and demanding change. Manchester was a great start, we had people with so many varied interests uniting to fight the Tories. But we need to build on this in every town and city across the UK.
We can afford to have a publicly owned NHS and care for the people of the UK, tackle climate change and provide decent jobs. So, will you play a part in helping us achieve that?