The Economy and Work

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 1:01 pm on 26th May 2016.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer 1:01 pm, 26th May 2016

I have a Conservative council. In my constituency tonight I will have possibly 200 families living in bed and breakfasts. There are individuals sleeping in our parks and along the canals. In my constituency, we have reinvented the back-to-back, where one family rents the front of a house and another rents the back. We have beds in sheds rented to families. It is a disgrace. This Government have been in power for six years and homelessness has escalated.

According to the Queen’s Speech, the Government will “spread economic prosperity”. Tell that to the steelworkers I met in Redcar, where the Government failed even to mothball the plant to save their local futures. Tell that to the British Home Stores workers facing redundancy as their boss, Sir Philip Green—a Government adviser—stripped their business clean.

In the Queen’s Speech the Government said they will

“continue to support the…Northern Powerhouse.”

That will be why they are closing its Sheffield office and threatening another six offices across the north with closure. That will be why of the top 15 infrastructure projects with the most public funding, one is in the north.

In the Queen’s Speech, the Government say not that they will tackle poverty and depravation, but that they will redefine them. The Chancellor’s shameful response to the 1 million people using our food banks every year is to

“introduce new indicators for measuring life chances”.

His failed austerity programme has a human cost, with 500,000 more children in this country forced into poverty and nearly 13 million people now living in poverty. More than half of those people are in work. This Queen’s Speech offers no solutions to those who have barely enough to feed their families and cannot pay to heat their houses. Instead, the Government will simply make sure that they are counting those people’s misery properly.