Letter to the Bath Chronicle published 29th November 2018 from Dr Sharon Gillings, candidate for Kingsmead.
Our government is probably hoping the United Nations report by Professor Philip Alston on poverty in the UK won’t get traction. Brexit chaos, caused by the Conservatives’ reckless gambol with our nation’s future, is fiercely consuming time, money, attention and energy. Despite this we must not ignore the UN’s condemnation of our last two governments. Cuts inflicted by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have “torn at the fabric of society” and are an attack upon those least able to manage. According to the UN report it costs £78 billion per year to cope with the fallout of the cuts.
“torn at the fabric of society”
An obvious example of poverty is homelessness. Visible rough sleeping is increasing but is the tip of the iceberg. In 2015 Crisis estimated that 3.52 million adults were “hidden homeless” concealed within households. I attended a housing conference on 9th November where Wera Hobhouse hosted an afternoon of speakers, she had nothing to add to the discussion and didn’t give us the chance to question her. There was no mention of the reduction of 35% in government spending on housing during the Coalition government 2010- 2015 (44% reduction in spending on new homes). There were no proposals or solutions put forward. The Coalition is also responsible for welfare reforms and massive cuts to council budgets. In a time of rising demand the Health and Social Care Act 2012 is dismantling the NHS. The safety net has been removed.
“Ironically it was these very fears and insecurity [of poverty] that contributed significantly to the Brexit vote.”
As the fifth largest world economy these cuts were a political choice and a deliberate act of “social engineering.” Wera Hobhouse’s concern about homelessness feels dishonest, the evidence of her party’s role in plunging millions into poverty is overwhelming. Alston concluded that, “Ironically it was these very fears and insecurity [of poverty] that contributed significantly to the Brexit vote.” I hope this irony is not lost on the LibDems.
Dr Sharon Gillings
Bath Labour Party