While people queue for food banks, MP’s want £80,000 a year

January 14, 2013 11:52 am

Between April and November last year, 13,500 people visited food banks in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside, mostly people who are in work. As benefits are cut for the unemployed and for working people, food banks are likely to become a set feature of our society, with charities expected to foot the bill.

It iFood banks shameful that in one of the richest nations in the world we have working people having to make a choice between putting on the heating and feeding themselves and their children. Whilst this has become a reality for many, the news that over 70% of MP’s believe they are entitled to a 32% salary increase made my heart sink, particularly in the same week that they voted to cut benefits in real terms. Considering Labour have positioned themselves as the party who are protecting the poor from the “nasty Tories”, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth to see that 40% of Labour MP’s think they are not paid enough. It really is unbelievable that politicians tell people that they have to live on £70 a week and then say that £60,000 a year is not enough for them to live on. £70 a week works out at £3640 per year. People on Job Seekers Allowance really are laughing all the way to the bank, aren’t they?

The accusation that politicians are out of touch with ‘real’ people is made often, and this confirms it. Whilst other public sector workers suffer wage freezes, what makes politicians think they are entitled to a ridiculous salary increase? Are they doing an amazing job serving the interests of the public? Are they working harder than nurses, bus drivers, policemen? Considering that the aim of the coalition is to reduce the deficit, do they think that by each taking home £20,000 more than they do already will help them achieve that aim? It looks like their intentions are to take money from the poor to fill their own pockets.

It is not just the actions of the government that are abhorrent, it is the way they attempt to direct the conversation. The “striver’s vs. skiver’s” debate is hugely damaging, attempting to turn the low paid and unemployed against each other, suggesting that unemployment is a lifestyle choice and hardworking people’s taxes pay for this lifestyle choice. Out of work benefits are a small proportion of the average wage (around 11%), yet the standard Tory rhetoric is that it pays more to be on benefits than it does to work. I worked two shifts a week in a bar on minimum wage and earned a substantial amount more than the JSA benefit, it pays more to work, even for a few hours a week. The problem is there are no jobs. This same dividing tactic is used when public sector workers ask for a pay rise, the same old stories surface about the Unions attempting to bring the country to a halt, about the impertinence of public sector workers believing they are entitled to more than workers in the private sector. Imagine what would happen if the unions started asking for a 32% pay rise for their members.
Politicians, I implore you to stop thinking about lining your own pockets, and start thinking about how you can help the most vulnerable members of our society.

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  • ChrisRobinson

    Brilliant article, Harriet. I’ve been on this site since July, 2012 and this is probably the best article I’ve read, bar none. You hit it right on the button and not a word wasted. Get involved with Manchester Socialist Party, or Socialist Students (if you’re not already!), you could make such a contribution
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