According to this 2013 Guardian article, 15% of children in Alyn and Deeside live in poverty. That means children going to bed hungry, and in no small numbers either. Whoever wins the election, this needs to be addressed; the question is how we do it.
We know that many people in poverty are in work. We also know that the vast majority of people claiming social security benefits, such as jobseekers allowance or universal credit, are desperate to get into work again, or in the case of many young people, for the first time. The Tory solution is to cut benefits to incentivise people to go to work, but this is rubbish- more benefits are claimed by people who are in work but on poverty pay than are unemployed. Also, whilst there’s not enough jobs to go around, how can taking money away from those without do anything except plunge them into deeper poverty?
For years people have turned to Labour for a different vision of social security. A vision that doesn’t seek to punish the poor for the failures of the rich, a vision which acknowledges that when working class people are hit by misfortune, they need to be able to access the financial help they have contributed to, not threatened and bullied with sanctions. Nevertheless, Labour’s shadow work and pension secretary, Rachel Reeves, has been clear: Labour will be “Tougher than the Tories” (her words) on welfare.
The main parties have both joined in with the Ukip-like rhetoric that people on poverty pay and out of work are “scroungers”. This is not true.
The Green Party believes that we can do things differently. We believe that the minimum wage should be a living wage, that is, if you’re working full time your wages should be enough to live on. That means that if elected, I will do everything I can to make the minimum wage £10 an hour by 2015.
I believe that people who are out of work should still have enough to survive on. I believe that people who are out of work shouldn’t be worse off if they go back into work. But the way to achieve that is not by cutting benefits back further- doing so will only increase that child poverty statistic. Instead, I will campaign for a citizen’s income. That’s an amount paid to everyone over the age of 16, regardless of how wealthy they are, regardless of how much they earn, regardless of whether they’re in work or not, every week.
Can we afford it? Yes. Britain has one of the lowest rates of corporation tax in the developed world, but even then many big companies don’t pay it- see Starbucks, Amazon and Vodafone. The Green Party will make these companies pay their taxes, and we will increase the tax rate for big companies, so that the more money they make, the higher tax rate they pay. In other words, companies will e subject to tax in the same way people are through income tax. Small businesses will therefore be able to gain an advantage against the likes of Tesco, which will help create more local, well-paid and long-term jobs.
The Greens are the only party who refuse to take donations from big companies and don’t accept fat cheques from rich individuals, unlike the other parties. That means we won’t be pressured to drop these commitments as soon as we’re elected. If you want to vote for the interests of the rich, there’s a load of parties you can choose from. But if you want to vote for the interests of the people of Alyn and Deeside, vote Green.