All parties talk of creating a fair and prosperous Britain that works for all, but the last seven years have shown that the Conservative government has no such interest.
Wealth has been continuously pooling at the top of society, with the Equality Trust reporting that the 100 richest families have combined wealth increases of £55.5bn. This contrasts the ever growing use of food banks, which increased by nearly 74,000 three-day food supplies in the last year. Homelessness has increased year on year for the sixth successive year.
Applications to university are down 5% from last year, and the number of people applying to train and become a nurse has fallen 23%. Regarding the former, I’d argue that the tripling of tuition fees and the removal of a maintenance grant has created a psychological barrier for those worried about money or don’t feel they can be assured of support from their family. However, the decline in nursing applicants is irrefutably a result of an NHS starved of vital funding. The 1% pay rise or seventh consecutive year of pay freezes will have certainly damaged morale of staff and would be nurses – a point only exacerbated by the abolition of the nursing bursary. Those wealthy enough to rely on family support aren’t affected, and the decimation of a national health service means nothing to those who can afford to pay for private health care.
Time and time over the course of the Conservative Government we have seen decisions be taken that are exclusively for the benefit of the very richest. Raising VAT to 20% affects everyone, but the reduction in tax rates for the wealthiest obviously benefits very few. They even intended to increase NI contributions for the self-employed, before having to U-turn due to dissent from backbenchers.
The simple truth is that the rich need to start contributing. Tax evasion loopholes need to be closed, and abusers of the system prosecuted. Tax brackets need to be readjusted to ensure that those most well off are contributing for good of the country.
Even if you remove politics, it’s not even an issue of being ‘socialist’ or ‘capitalist’, this boils down to empathy and compassion. How can someone earning £80,000 a year more than 2.5x the national average, say they cannot afford to pay slightly more tax (or start paying tax) to help elevate four million children out of poverty, or provide support for the quarter of a million homeless people across the UK.
Strip out the rhetoric, the name calling and the lies and one thing is clear. Wealth is not trickling down, it’s concentrating at the top. The numbers speak for themselves, and believing that there will suddenly be a reversal in attitude from a Government that’s had seven years to make a change is just irresponsible. If we want to stimulate growth, people need to spend. If they are to spend, they need money. They can’t have money unless they are paid more, either through increases in minimum wage, not stripping them of the benefits they relied on to survive, or using the public sector to kickstart the economy. Progressive tax needs to be reformed, and the wealth distributed so everyone has an equal opportunity to create a life for themselves.