Thursday, 8 January 2015

Time human beings were put at the centre of the economic equation

The present socio-economic experiment being conducted in the UK has caused high levels of suffering across the mass of the population.

The experiment has consisted of forcing increasing numbers of people into low paid insecure jobs and increasing levels of personal debt.

So there are now 1.4 million people on zero hour contracts, with two in five jobs created over recent years being classified as self-employed.

There are 4.6 million people classified as self-employed, some 15 per cent of the workforce.

Figures published by Parliament show that the average annual income for self- employment is £10,000 for women, lest anyone should think that self- employment equates to a growth of budding entrepreneurs.

Then there has been the growth in part time workers, who now make up 8 million out of the 30 million workforce. They account for half of the jobs created between 2010 and 2012.

At the same time real weekly wages overall have fallen by 8% since 2008, equivalent to a fall in annual earnings of about £2,000 for a typical worker in Britain.

Working poverty has also been on the increase with an increasing amount of benefits going to those in work. Just over half of the 13 million people in poverty - surviving on less than 60% of the national median (middle) income - were from working families,

The result of this socio-economic experiment is that there is less money around to keep the wheels of the economy turning, hence the slowness of the growth rate.

Despite talking about cutting the deficit, the Coalition Government has actually borrowed more in five years than the previous Labour administration did in 13 years. It is not cutting the deficit significantly because the tax take is down, due partly to the growth of low paid insecure work.

The ongoing wage stagnation has driven people increasingly to the money lenders, with a seven year high of £1.25 billion reported in November for borrowing on credit cards loans and overdrafts. People don’t have the money, so they borrow and debt grows.

Another part of the social economic experiment has involved demonising the poor, who rely on benefits, as scroungers and skivers. This media mood music has allowed government to cut away vast swathes of the welfare state support network.

The new charitable answer to poverty is foodbanks.
The Church backed Trussell Trust, which runs the nationwide network of foodbanks, reports 913,000 going to foodbanks over the past year – an increase of 129,000.The Trust point out that there have been 500,000 people coming to foodbanks in the six month period between April and September last year, 38% more than for the comparable period in 2013.

Currently, 45% of food bank referrals are due to benefit delays and changes, including sanctions and 22% of the 500,000 that came cite low income as the main trigger for the crisis

This grotesque situation of low pay, growing indebtedness and a million people going to foodbanks is happening in one of the richest countries in the world.  A country that has seen the number of resident billionaires grow from 53 to 100 billionaires over the past six years. The richest 1,000 people now have £450 billion of the wealth – an increase of £150 billion in the past three years.    

Surely, it must be time to call a halt to this socio-economic experiment and put the welfare of the human person back at the centre of the equation

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