According to #David Cameron, Britain has seen economic 'growth' under the Coalition due to a 0.7% increase in the UK's GDP, and the number of people who are 'out of work' falling by 24,000, referring of course to the amount of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance. This is seemingly just what we needed; after all it is what the coalition promised us.
However, one needs to consider; who is actually paying for this 'growth'? And who is this 'growth' actually benefiting? The Tories would love for the economic 'growth' to be from foreign investment as it would justify tax cuts to high earning businesses put in place to make the UK more 'competitive'. However this is not the case as overall investment has dropped. Even if it were, companies only invest if they can get a higher financial return. We would still be the ones bearing the brunt. In that case who is paying for the economic 'growth'? The short answer is: we are, and whilst not reaping any of the benefits.
According to John Cridland, the director general of the CBI; 'growth must come first'.
But at what cost?
As the economy grows so does inflation and the cost of living: much faster in fact, than wages. Thus an increasing number of people are struggling to find the money just to eat. Food banks gave emergency food to 346,992 people in the financial year of 2012-13, a rise of 170% compared with the previous year. Meaning the rate at which new food banks are being launched increased by 76% in an attempt to assist the rising number of people going hungry. One factor contributing considerably to this crisis is the social welfare reform. Funding for people in financially vulnerable situations has been capped making it lower than it has been for the last seven years. Whilst at the same time, increasing tax and decreasing benefits for some of the most vulnerable people because of something as arbitrary as the amount of rooms in one's house. Dealing with these issues is now up to local authorities and, without adequate funding, often they simply just refer people to food banks. The government does not provide adequate support so vulnerable people have to accept charity hand-outs. For some this is just too shameful so they turn to crime as a means to survive. We are lucky that Trussell Trust Food Banks are there to pick up the slack because 100% of their clients would have had to miss at least one meal otherwise.
The idea behind putting 'growth' first is that once businesses have been allowed to grow, wages can then increase. However it seems difficult to believe that businesses will want to then increase wages, especially when low wages are the basis of their growth. If the economy grows before wages then all our expenditures will rise before our wages do putting all of us permanently, yet another step behind. They need us to become poorer so they can become richer.
Of course if one were to 'just go out and get a job', as the non-working rich seem to think it is just that easy, being employed does not actually guarantee one earns any money or even works at all. The increase of part time and zero hour contracts has conveniently reduced the amount of people who claim job seekers, without actually necessarily providing people any work at all. Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite said that '5.5million people are estimated to be on a zero hour contracts in Britain' that is a huge increase, as the figures in 2012 were estimated at just over 200,000. Considerably more people have actually lost hours contractually, than have gained any. Of course zero hour contracts do have a place and in some situations can benefit the employee. However, when there is no upper limit to how many hours someone can work on such an ambiguous contract, it creates a situation where companies can, and do, force people to work potentially every day without any sickness or holiday pay; as such things often only come from contracted hours. Even if an employee is getting consistent work it still can be a very negative situation. Because 'growth must come first'.
Another outright disgraceful, disgusting, and atrocious figure on the rise during this period of economic 'growth' is the amount of children living in poverty. According to the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) 3.5 million Children are now living in poverty, which is more than a quarter of all the children living in the UK. In some areas of the UK there are much worse concentrations of impoverished children, where as many as 70% are growing up in poverty. The typical Tory tactic of blaming the poor for being poor is just not on this time, these are Children! Poor parenting, drug and alcohol dependency, family breakdown, and a culture of benefit dependency are not to blame as they are not supported by any statistics at all. The reality is that a combination of; austerity, 'worklessness', low paid work and inadequate benefits are causing children and families to fall into poverty from which they unable to escape. Getting a job does not seem to ease the pain either; according to CPAG 66% of children in poverty have a family member who is in work. There really is nobody who gains from child poverty being ignored as the cost of having such a huge amount of impoverished children is estimated at £26 Billion per year.
How can anyone have the audacity to suggest 'growth' is worth this? If this is what 'growth' costs then it's not what we want.
So why is the economic 'growth' not benefiting the people who need it most? The current economic 'growth' pertains to a 0.7% rise in GDP. GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product, it is the measure of all the goods and services the UK produces. So if GDP is rising, which it is, it means businesses in Britain are making more money. However this does not necessarily mean the general public have more money, as the conservative ideology ensures that this wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few. This essentially means that under the current coalition or a future conservative government; whether the GDP rises or falls, our living standards will continue to deteriorate. #Prime Minister