You will struggle to find a studio flat in Brighton for less than £500 a month. A one bedroom flat will cost over £700 a month. Yet if you are on the minimum wage you will only take home around £650 a month. There are over 10 million people in the UK who earn less than £7 an hour, that's a third of the total workforce. So twice as many of the poor working class prefer a subsistence existence in work than the 5 million of working age subsisting on benefits. Not only do these two groups constantly interchange but most of the poor are in work and most getting housing benefits are in work (so to label one group as feckless and the other as saints is misleading) as these crap jobs not only pay poorly but are insecure with high turnovers of staff due to the high demands and poor treatment of staff by employers. We must remember that any benefits and or wages mostly go to landlords to pay the rent. We cannot pay people less than it costs to keep a roof over their head (or can we?). Also we should remember that Tory governments actually increased the number of genuinely disabled people with their vindictive policies. Yes, nobody made people more ill than the Tories in the 1980s - welfare dependancy started with Thatcher.
Tories are incredulous that there are people in the UK who go without food to enjoy a night out or feed their kids. Edwina Currie echoed the views of most Tories when she said it was just plain poor housekeeping. But how many of these silverspoon Tories have had to survive on these sort of incomes? You would have to be a saint not to end up in debt when over 90% of your income goes on basic bills like rent and utility bills with nothing left for life's luxuries. Just one piece of bad luck or 'fecklessness' and bingo you are in debt. A mobile phone or TV means you are not poor in Tory eyes, but these are now small change to buy compared to the massive amounts going on the basics.
And debt is the stick the rich use to whack the poor. This is the stem cause of our current recession. As inequality has grown, the wealthy have lent more and more money to the poor, who surrounded by goods they couldn't afford gleefully accepted it. Those of us on average incomes - the median being £21,000 a year will have to pay back these debts (including the high rates of interest) to the rich that the poorest were always going to default on. Who is more immoral here? Those on the breadline accepting the loans or those rich who dangled these easy loans in the first place? Shouldn't the rich be made to take the hit on these loans? Since letting the banking system collapse would hurt us all, surely taxing wealth is the option we should really be taking not taxing those caught in the middle.
The wealth of the country is around £10 trillion, of which around £5 trillion is in the hands of the richest 10%. The £1 trillion of national debt could be paid off instantly with a one off 20% tax on this wealth. The poorest 10% with just £13 million could never pay this debt off. Of course, countries never pay off their national debt completely (to do so would destroy the City bond markets and pension funds) and current deficit repayments are less than John Major faced in the 1990s in GDP terms so there is no rush. See FALSE-ECONOMY. But until we recognise that taxing the rich is a better way to deal with the deficit than sacking workers and destroying services the poorest will suffer. Apart from defence and law and order we spend less on every public service than our European neighbours.