Osborne’s austerity is not only unnecessary, gratuitously cruel in punishing the poor for the sins of ultra-rich bankers, but it has now emerged has hit the poorest in Britain far harder than in any comparable State in the EU. What has now been revealed from OECD data is that poor people in the UK are now suffering enforced deprivation not only harsher than in Germany, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark but, shockingly, on a par with poverty in the former eastern bloc. The truth is life is much worse here than it is for the poorest fifth in virtually every other north-western European country. These facts put into perspective not only the experience in Britain of Osborne’s austerity, but the unique imposition of the bedroom tax, the near-million persons who have been deprived of all benefits in the last year as a result of DWP sanctioning, and the further million persons who have been shamefully taken off incapacity benefit and put on JSA at £71 a week on the utterly spurious pretence that they are able to work.
The OECD calculates the average income of the bottom fifth of UK households at £5,639 a year, or just £108 a week. This is the average applying to no less than 13 million people currently living in the UK. These are much lower figures than for the equivalent group in Germany (£7,918), France (£7,486), Belgium (£7,308), Denmark (£7,209), and Netherlands (£6,671). Moreover, according to Eurostat, GDP per person is lower in west Wales than it is in Poland. Similarly GDP per person in Tees Valley and Durham is lower than in the Czech Republic. By contrast, London is the richest region in the EU. In fact with average household incomes in Britain today of about £31,700 a year, the richest 20% in the UK were the third richest in their bracket of all EU countries except Germany and France. Thus the rich are richer in the UK than in almost all other EU countries, but at the same time the poor in the UK are significantly poorer than in all other comparable EU countries.