The New Economics Foundation says the percentage of people getting less than the Minimum Income Standard is set to grow from 30% in September to 34% in April 2021. The percentage on less than 75% of the MIS will grow from 16% to 19%.
Labour’s metro-region mayors are demanding the government expands its income support schemes.
The mayors are working with the NEF to call for a “Minimum Income Standard”, ensuring everyone gets at least £320 a week, or £227 excluding rent and childcare.
The mayors’ demands are not radical, focusing on “plugging holes” in the furlough and self-employment schemes and increasing Universal Credit. But to win them, we need a serious labour movement campaign.
Despite the Tories’ claim that they are not going back to austerity, they are planning to cut Universal Credit by withdrawing the previous £20 a week increase. Round the next turning in the road are attacks all along the line — on benefits, on public sector workers’ pay, even in the NHS.
To meet the “incomes crisis” — and multiple other imminent crises — we need a much bigger and louder campaign: by Labour politicians (Keir Starmer and his “team” are yet again silent), by the unions and by grassroots activists.
We need widespread action against the government and employers, mobilising protests safely but in defiance of lockdown regulations, and mobilising strikes. To take hold of the resources to implement even limited improvements, we need wider moves to assert social control over social wealth. We need full public ownership and expansion of health and care services, a mass council house-building programme and a radical “Green New Deal”, creating millions of jobs addressing the health, housing and climate crises.
We need public ownership of banking and finance, to gain the necessary resources and economic leverage.
Some of these policies are already supported, on paper, by pretty much the entire labour movement - but not really fought for (like a council housing program). Others require an argument to be won (for instance in the Labour Party on public ownership of finance). As a start, we should push for all labour movement organisations, Labour and trade union, to begin campaigning for their own democratically agreed policies.