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View from the House: Wealth falls for poorest and rises at top

PUBLISHED: 08:00 25 November 2018

Lyn Brown

Last week, the United Nations came to Newham. They were here to listen to charities and local people give evidence about the effect of record levels of extreme poverty that blight our society.

It was a powerful and heart-breaking testimony to the inequality and destitution faced by so many, every day. It was hard to listen to, but much harder to live and experience.

They’re visiting other areas, but singled out Newham as somewhere Tory austerity is hitting hardest.

Since 2010, this government’s austerity cuts made the inequality we see around us painfully obvious, yet despite the massive damage they do to people, old and young, and the services on which they rely, the Tories just keep going.

Last year, child poverty in Newham was the third worst in the country. Of Newham’s children, 43 per cent live below the poverty line.

I see what that means in my surgery and letters to my office: families forced to live off foodbanks, paying sky-high rents and living six-to-a-room, with little hope for a better future.

The government says the way out of this appalling poverty is work. That’s spin and they know it. Almost 70pc of the 4.5 million children in poverty, live in working families, facing ever more extraordinary costs just to get by. In Newham, rents rose 45pc in four years.

When things go wrong, there are now so many holes in social security, families can’t rely on it as a safety net.

Over 14 million people are in poverty in the UK: 8.4 million working-age adults, 4.5 million children and 1.4 million pensioners. This is the sixth richest country on the planet.

Somehow, Theresa May has the nerve to say austerity is over.

Austerity was, and is, a political choice, and wealth has fallen for the poorest while rising at the top.

Something has to give. A political problem needs a political solution.

Only a Labour government, investing in our communities and re-building our economy, will make the much-needed change. We need an end to poverty and destitution.

That’s why I became an MP and what I continue to fight for every day.

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