Tory austerity is still devastating Britain

Reports from Crisis, the Trussell Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation show that the inhumane Tories are leading us deeper into a social emergency, writes KEN LIVINGSTONE

THE situation facing Britain is nothing less than a social emergency. Currently, 14.5 million people are living in poverty in Britain, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s figures that were released in September.

In terms of children specifically, the latest numbers tell us that almost one in three children are living in poverty (31 per cent). Nearly half of children in lone-parent families live in poverty, compared with one in four of those in couple families.

And more people than ever will be using foodbanks this Christmas, with a recent release from the Trussell Trust reporting that “for the first time outside of the first year of the pandemic, foodbanks in the Trussell Trust network has distributed over 2.1 million food parcels in 2021-22.”

According to Crisis, homelessness is also at high levels. Its data shows that 2021 saw 227,000 people experiencing the worst forms of homelessness — rough sleeping, sleeping in vans and sheds, and stuck in B&Bs across England, Scotland and Wales. This figure likely underestimates the problem and is almost certainly even worse a year on.

At the same time, wages are falling sharply and TUC analysis shows real wages in Britain are forecast to shrink by 6.2 per cent (£1,750) over the next two years, meaning we will have the biggest “wage squeeze” in the G7.

Combined with increased insecurity at work — as illustrated by the explosion in practices such as zero-hours contracts — this means in-work poverty is affecting more and more people, despite the previous empty Tory promises on this issue.

Looking back at the broader picture of the human effect of austerity since the Tories got elected in 2010, a recent report argued there have been over 300,000 “excess” deaths here due to Tory policies, with further evidence showing people across the nation are dying younger as a result of austerity, with people living in the poorest areas hardest hit.

And let us not forget that, back in 2019, Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, published a report on the state of Britain in which he accused the Conservative government of the “systematic immiseration of a significant part of the British population.”

What is so scary about all of this, is that the situation is set to get much worse.

Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt may claim to be moderates but in reality they represent the same old “nasty party” and are fully fledged Thatcherites.

This was shown by the recent Autumn Statement which locked in years more austerity, and this undoubtedly also means a deeply damaging recession, meaning that the social emergency outlined in brief above is set to get a lot, lot worse and affect more and more people.

Undoubtedly this means that the Tories need to be removed at the ballot box at the earliest opportunity, but it is hard to imagine how many people will suffer, and to what degree they will suffer, if the Tories aren’t forced out before the end of 2024.

This means that, here and now, all of us on the left must urgently build maximum support for industrial action for better pay — and at the same back those movements on the streets and in our communities which are fighting back on the front line against the Tory offensive, including through direct action.

Alongside this, we must continue to argue again and again that austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity.

This means making clear the economic case for investment, not cuts, as the guiding theme of an alternative economic programme to austerity, including a real industrial strategy and a green new deal involving the extension of public ownership, plus emergency social support packages and funding for public services to deal with the crises we face.

You can sign the #WorkersCantWait petition at

This article originally appeared in The Morning Star