With Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at US $ 2.94 trillion (2014), the UK has the fifth largest economy
One in five of the population live below our official poverty line, meaning that they experience life as a daily struggle according to Oxfam.
The independent research project, Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) in the United Kingdom, concluded that poverty in Britain is worse now “than it has been for the past thirty years”, indeed the number of people living in poverty “has doubled since 1983”.
The PSE report reports that a third of people in the UK suffer significant difficulties and about a quarter have an unacceptably low standard of living.
4 million children and adults are not properly fed by today’s standards
Around 1.5 million children live in households that cannot afford to heat their home
Up to 2.5 million children live in homes that are damp.
The children’s charity Barnardo’s state that: “there are currently 3.7 million children living in poverty in the UK.” That’s over a quarter of all children. Barnado’s studied the education and health effects of child poverty. They found that poor children do worse at school – a mere 5% of the poorest achieve “a good level of development at the end of their reception year [aged 5/6 years]”, compared to almost 70% of other pupils. The poorest teenagers pass less exams – if any, and consequently cannot go to University, making it extremely unlikely they will get a good, fulfilling and well paid job, allowing them to move out of the prison of poverty.
Infant mortality is 10% higher for children in the lowest social groups than the average, and three-year-olds “living in households with incomes below about £10,000 are 2.5 times more likely to suffer chronic illness than children from financially better off families.
The stated aim of the Conservatives’ programme is “to reduce the deficit… give confidence to the markets and therefore deliver growth to the economy.” Oxfam analysis explains “for every £100 of deficit reduction, £85 comes through spending cuts, while £15 is achieved through increased taxes”. This involves extreme public sector cutbacks, including scrapping over 1 million jobs by 2018 and freezing wages; making severe reductions in welfare, as well as introducing nominal tax increases. The government proposes to cut £12 billions by 2017/18 from welfare spending, and have already made a devastating start. Tax credits have been slashed, all benefits will be frozen for four years, despite inflation, and the total amount of welfare someone can claim has been reduced. The most vulnerable members of society are taking the full hit of their aggressive, regressive policies, with women and children being affected most acutely – directly and indirectly. Despite having a statutory duty to end poverty by 2020, according to Oxfam an additional “one million children will be pushed into poverty as a result” of their socially divisive, unjust policies, and an extra “1.5 million working-age adults are expected to fall into poverty”.
The mythical land of ‘Zero Deficit’ is no nearer and, in fact, the UK budget deficit (what the government borrows each year) is estimated to be 4.9% of GDP or £88 billion this year – an all time high, and Government debt, at around £1.5 trillions, is almost double what it was in 2010, when the Conservative-led coalition came to power.