TALKING POLITICS: Gulf between social classes has never been so wide

Leonie Mathers

Leonie Mathers

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The news this week has been like a tale of two economies.

On the one hand, we saw the shocking scale of tax avoidance practices at HSBC laid bare—they’ve helped hundreds of the wealthiest in our society hide their millions in offshore accounts—and the Tories’ ‘Black & White Ball’, where the super-rich paid thousands to rub shoulders with the Prime Minister.

On the other hand, the rest of us who work hard and play by the rules saw wages across our area fall by £500 per person last year. A full-time worker now takes home, on average, £51 per week less than in 2010. To put that into context a top chief exec would have to work just two days to earn the average year’s salary round here. That can’t be right.

The gap between those at the top and the rest of us has never felt so wide, and it’s holding the whole country back.

Nothing underlines the problem more than the fact that for the first time ever, people living in poverty are more likely to be in working households than not.

People just aren’t making ends meet on their pay packet and, despite being in work, are forced to rely on a top-up from the welfare state.

The current Government—backed by Sherwood’s MP—seem content to sit back and let wages here fall, but this failure to make work pay means Ministers have spent an extra £200 billion covering the cost of higher welfare bills and lower tax income.

So this week, we’ve set out some of the ways the next Labour Government will rebuild the economy in a fairer way that supports local workers, small businesses and big industry here in Nottinghamshire. These include:

Banning exploitative zero-hour contracts, and making sure employers pay a fair wage

Making sure small businesses are first in line for tax cuts, because cash-flow holds them back more than other firms

Promoting a new industrial strategy for our biggest employers to raise skills and increase the number of apprentices

Tackling undercutting of workers by rogue employment agencies

There’s no magic bullet to fix the gap between the economy of millionaires and city bankers and the economy made up of the rest of us but it’s high time we turned a new page and tried, because people in our area deserve so much better.

Leonie Mathers, Labour Party Candidate for Sherwood

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