Reversing the deterioration in British living standards will be key to any one political party winning the next general election, the TUC has said.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady is urging parties to do more in this area amid growing concerns. The new head of the TUC is addressing UNISON’s annual women’s conference in Liverpool.
In advance of this morning’s conference, her speech – released to the press – explains that families throughout the country are seeing their household budgets strained. This is largely due to wages failing to keep up with prices, under-employment, rising bills and cuts to vital benefits, such as tax credits and child benefit.
She says: “As a series of official figures showed this week, the average worker is worse off now than they were a decade ago.
“But unless we can secure stronger growth in living standards in the years ahead we won’t be able to build a sustainable recovery. This means we need new measures to make sure that everyone shares in the rewards of future growth.
“This issue must be at the top of the political agenda. Politicians, regardless of their party allegiance, cannot turn a blind eye to this struggle.”
Highlighting the impact of austerity on Liverpool and the North West, O’Grady outlines the poverty witnessed in the North West particularly.
She explains: “Liverpool has been hit harder by council funding cuts than any other city and its local authority has lost far more of its grant than any of the Conservative-held shire councils.
“This has had a very real human cost. Last week Liverpool City Council announced another 150 job losses and further service cuts as it seeks to cut its budget by £32m next year.
“Across the North West over 50,000 public sector jobs have already gone. But sadly, we may not even be a third of the way through them yet. If the Office for Budget Responsibility is right we could lose over a million public sector jobs by 2018 – with over 180,000 going in the North West alone.
“These job losses will have a devastating impact on communities and on the quality of public services. Just think what the 600 potential job losses might mean for Liverpool Royal Hospital. And of course it will be women who bear the brunt of these redundancies – and that’s on top of cuts to tax credits, benefits and other vital public services.”