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LABOUR is vowing to wage war on the “10 modern scourges of poverty” and reverse the damage caused by a decade of Tory austerity.
The party has published a new report highlighting 10 ways the Tories have failed to tackle poverty and entrenched hardship in society.
Wage stagnation under the Conservatives has cost the average worker about £6,300 in losses, according to Labour’s report Poverty Britain.
Foodbanks have given out 65 million meals in the last five years, the equivalent of a meal for every person in the whole of Britain, the report found.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the next Labour government “will wage war on poverty in all its forms,” eliminating in-work poverty, ending austerity and raising living standards across the country.
Mr McDonnell said: “Poverty in Britain is now the most visible and widespread it has been in decades.
“This new report shows the Tories have failed to tackle 10 modern scourges of poverty, each becoming more entrenched on their watch.
“The choice at this election couldn’t be clearer: more stress and struggle for millions to make ends meet under the Tories or real change with Labour.”
Labour’s report also found that there are now more than 20 million adults with no savings, an increase of nearly three million since 2010/11.
There has also been an increase in in-work poverty by 1.5 million during the same period.
Poverty in families where someone is disabled has risen by over a million since 2010, the report revealed.
Between 2011/12 and 2017/18, the number of children in circumstances of severe low income and deprivation has risen by about 50 per cent, the report also found.
The National Education Union (NEU) welcomed Labour’s pledge on reversing the effects of austerity which “offers hope” to millions of children and their families currently “trapped in poverty’s grip.”
NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “This government has overseen a staggering rise in child poverty, with a third of all our children currently trapped in poverty.
“This means 4.1 million children are missing out on vital life chances.
“Since scrapping the national targets to end child poverty by 2020, this government’s policies have pushed 800,000 more children living in working families into poverty, with nearly half a million living below the breadline. This is not right.
“Teachers and support staff work on the front line of child poverty and witness its devastating effects every day.”
Mr Courtney warned that children living in insecure or temporary housing, who have no food in the cupboards at home, walking to school in flip-flops in winter because they cannot afford decent school shoes, “cannot come to school ready to learn.”
Labour promises to end the two-child limit on benefits, expand free childcare, open 1,000 new SureStart centres and provide universal free school meals for all primary school children.
The party’s pledge comes as a seven-year-old child’s heartbreaking letter to Santa asking for a home and food for her family for Christmas came to light.
The letter was left in a Christmas postbox at the L6 Community Centre in Everton. Local Labour councillor Gerard Woodhouse posted a picture of the letter on Twitter.
In the letter, the child writes: “Dear Father Christmas. Can you help?
“Can we have a home for Christmas? Mam wants us to be all together. Can you give us some food and can I have just a nice doll for Christmas? Thank you.”
The letter appeared when the team at the community centre began decorating for Christmas. They left the postbox in the cafe for visiting children to post their Christmas wishes.
Mr Woodhouse said: “I stopped by yesterday and I opened the postbox and saw the letter there. It was so upsetting to read.
“I know the children, and it’s not right that a seven-year-old child is worrying about Christmas in November.
“There is no-one around to support these children.”
He said the L6 centre team is trying to help the family — the youngsters are currently staying with relatives — and may put them up in a hotel on Christmas Day.
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