• hillingdonherald

'After ten years of austerity we are no longer talking simply about poverty but destitution'

John McDonnell

Labour MP for

Hayes and Harlington

I SO welcome the arrival of The Hillingdon Herald because we really need a vehicle for reporting and talking about what’s happening in our local community.

From my perspective, it’s got pretty tough for people in my patch.

I’ve lived in my constituency now for nearly 50 years and this is rapidly becoming one of the toughest and most challenging periods.

Economically the Covid pandemic has hit our community especially hard because of the virtual closure of the airport. In my role as Shadow Chancellor last year I was the first person to propose a furlough scheme to protect people’s jobs and incomes. The scheme the government introduced was a less comprehensive scheme than I recommended but at least it gave some protection to a sizeable number of my constituents.

It didn’t help when some companies like BA and Heathrow tried the fire and hire strategy of trying to force though permanent cuts in the wages and conditions of their employees. Thanks to a strong campaign by Unite the union and the local community we managed to fight that off.

The problem now is that although the furlough scheme is coming to an end, the airport and all of its supply chain is still not back to normal. That’s why along with the unions, I have been pressing for ongoing assistance to our area to support workers and their families and the local economy.

We are now facing the £20 a week cut in universal credit, a pay freeze across the public sector and a wage increase for NHS workers of only three per cent, which with inflation rising to four per cent will mean a pay cut for the doctors, nurses and carers who have bravely cared for us throughout the covid pandemic.

In Hayes and Harlington already 42% of children are now living in poverty and the cut in Universal Credit will push more into serious poverty.

I have appealed to the Government and supported the campaign to halt this appalling cut.

The United Rapporteur, who wrote an analysis of poverty in our country said that after ten years of austerity we are no longer talking simply about poverty or serious poverty but destitution for some.

Cutting benefits and freezing wages is particularly tough at a time when inflation is rising.

We still have 2 million pensioners living in poverty in the UK.

I opposed Mrs Thatcher’s policy of breaking the link between the level of pension and earnings rate. That’s why I welcomed it when the Government introduced the triple local pensions protection. Boris Johnson has now broken his promise to keep the triple lock and so the pension increase pensioners were entitled to this year will be cut.

On top of all this the Government’s plans to increase national insurance to pay for social care has been described as the unfairest way to raise funds from many lower paid workers.

So overall I regret to report that it’s tough in our community at the moment.