The forthcoming EU elections will take place against a backdrop of unemployment, debt, hunger and misery for millions across Europe, including Britain. There is enough subterfuge and hot air expended in the British parliament without adding to it in Europe. In Britain the Coalition’s welfare cuts have seen the descent of 1.75 million of our poorest households into greater poverty. A report by Oxfam and the New Policy Institute shows more families struggling to cover food and energy bills; it emphasises a drop in the overall value of benefits which rose by less than inflation.
Changes to housing benefit and council tax support have forced poor families into paying housing costs they were previously not required to pay. These poorest families have suffered an absolute cut in their income over the last 3 years.
Oxfam Chief Mark Golding said, “We are already seeing people turning to food banks and struggling with rent, council tax, child care and travel costs to job centres……At a time when the 5 richest families in the UK have the same wealth as the bottom 20% of the population it is unacceptable that the poorest are paying such a heavy price.” 300,000 households have had a cut in housing benefit; 920,000 a reduction in council tax support and 480,000 a cut in both. 400,000 households have been pushed further into poverty during the past year. Those affected by both taxes lose an average of £18 a week.
Recent figures show over a million Britons have been helped by food banks in the past year. Britain’s biggest food bank, the Trussell Trust, said that 900,000 people received food parcels in 2013-14, a 163% increase on the previous year, which did not take into account the total number of people likely to go hungry.
Naturally the talking shop at Westminster is busy talking to itself and conforming to the wishes of International Capital; far too busy to look after the essential needs of the British people. When a government refuses to run the country in the interests of the people what should our response be?