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The Government is failing Londoners

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29 October 2013
No to Blackheath Station Car Park Charges Anyone who has switched on the TV or radio recently to hear the government congratulating itself on marginally better GDP figures might be forgiven for thinking that this means we will all be better off. Sadly, a new report – London’s Poverty Profile – shows the opposite to be the case.

The report, using government data to demonstrate how London compares to the rest of the country, paints a desperate picture of inequality and in-work poverty. In 2011-12, 28% of Londoners were living in poverty; a higher rate than anywhere else in the country. Inequality in London is also rife with 16% of the poorest people in the UK living beside 17% of the very richest. Perhaps most shocking of all is the level of poverty in households where someone is in work, which has risen by 440,000. 

Working people are feeling poorer because the government has only been looking at one side of the coin – focussed on the big numbers of economic output while ignoring the real people struggling with a cost of living crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen for decades. Obviously work is better than worklessness, but this report drives a coach and horses through David Cameron’s idea that work on its own will lift people out of poverty. 

Speaking to people while out door-knocking in Lewisham and Catford this weekend, I was met with similar stories again and again. Rising prices, stagnating wages, soaring costs for childcare and utilities - these are all things that are making many people feel worse off while the richest are getting ever richer. The cost of travelling to work on the train is eye-wateringly high and increases each year above the rate of inflation.

This is why the Labour Party and Ed Miliband is right to speak out on energy prices and to pledge a 20-month freeze if Labour comes to power after the next election. It’s why we are right to promise to strengthen the minimum wage and to extend the number of hours of free childcare available to the parents of 3 and 4 years olds. Whilst the current government may have forgotten you, the next one will not.

The well-worn phrase that we are “all in it together” seems to have been dropped from the government script in recent weeks, and now hangs heavy around its neck. The cost of living crisis is real and affecting employed and unemployed alike. It is threatening a way of life that we have become accustomed to and our desire to see our children have better than we had ourselves. It’s time for the government to be honest about this and tackle it.

You can read more about London's Poverty Profile here

This article was written for, and published by, the South London Press


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