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The Tories should be ashamed of their record on poverty

December 1, 2019 10:00 PM
By Hannah Perkin

Last week the Conservative candidate from a neighbouring constituency sparked outrage after saying on live TV there was nothing he could personally do about the appalling numbers of children in the area living in poverty, despite having been the local MP for the past 9 years.

HP H and SPoverty is nothing new, but it is appalling that so many people, particularly children, are living in acute deprivation in modern day Britain. The situation has got rapidly worse under the last Tory Government.

The Trussell Trust has recently reported that foodbank usage in Britain has grown by 75% in the past 5 years. During the six months from April to September, 823,145 three-day emergency food parcels were given to people in crisis in the UK; more than a third of these (301,653) went to children.The situation in Kent is similar, with Trussell Trust reporting that demand is 25% higher than last year. Other foodbank organisations are reporting an even sharper increase and are really struggling to keep up with demand.

Like many others, I have helped out at a foodbank and seen the anxiety and stress on the faces of people forced to rely on the generosity of others. I have seen joyless children with so little to look forward to.

Sometimes people are the victims of ill-health or unfortunate circumstances, but more often they have fallen foul of an unfair benefits system that no longer works. One of the key issues people at food banks face is the five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment or the delay in benefits which are linked to the payment of Universal Credit. Claimants may be offered an Advance Payment, but this is a loan that must be paid back, forcing many people into debt at extortionate interest rates.

It is shocking and deplorable that the Conservatives have no plan to tackle poverty. The Resolution Foundation, an independant think-tank predicts that child poverty would reach record levels under a new Conservative Government. You can find their full report here. It is a damning indictment of the Tories' heartless welfare policy.

The Foundation considers the Liberal Democrats to have the most progressive policies of the three main parties. It found that our policies would mean 600,000 fewer children in poverty by 2023-24.

I am very proud that the Liberal Democrat have committed to investing £6 billion per year to strengthen the welfare system over the next Parliament. We will prioritise tackling child poverty by abolishing the cruel two-child limit for Universal Credit and ending the unfair benefits cap and the bedroom tax.

A Liberal Democrat led government will make work pay and tackle in-work poverty, by using part of the Remain bonus - the £50 billion of extra funding that would be generated by stopping Brexit - to restore Work Allowances and introduce a second-earner Work Allowance. We will also invest in boosting the Local Housing Allowance by linking it to average rents in each area.

Tory austerity has left a fifth of UK citizens in poverty, unable to afford even the most basic essentials.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. We will build a brighter future for our children and for others struggling in our society. We will fix our broken welfare system to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities regardless of where they come from.