A new report for the TUC, ‘All in this together?’, has shown why Labour needs to challenge austerity more than ever, as Tory cuts disproportionately hit those already on lower incomes and suck money out of the economy.
Writing on the TUC’s Touchstone blog, academic Stewart Lansley writes, “Just as in the 1980s and early 1990s, it is those in the bottom half of the income distribution that are bearing the brunt of the rise in unemployment and the cuts in real wages. Those most likely to have lost their jobs have been skilled and unskilled workers in the lowest pay brackets.”
Astonishingly, he states that on average, “real wages fell by 3.6% in the year to June 2010 and then by a further 3.8% in the year to June 2011″ highlighting the squeeze ordinary people are facing. Furthermore, he concludes that “for most, pay levels and conditions are unlikely to return to pre-recession levels, even after recovery” as the Tories continue the trend of weakening employment conditions that Thatcher started 30 years ago.
But in what he calls “Britain’s twin-track economy” the richest at the top have found ways of firewalling their own incomes and wealth whilst UK consumers have lost billions of pounds following the diversion
This is further evidence that Ed Miliband is right to focus on high pay but also needs to challenge public sector pay restraint which is seeing real-term cuts in income for millions of people.
It is not only necessary to be seen defending ordinary people whilst the richest maintain their incomes but also to get the economy moving. Lansley calculates the effects of the crisis on top of the 30 year trend in diverting output from wages means we are now “driving an apparently relentless slide into near-permanent slump.”
Join Katy Clark MP, Owen Jones, Anna Bird, Richard Murphy, George Irvin and Ellie Mae O’Hagan on the 21st February to discuss why Austerity Isn’t Working.