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When Economic 'Recovery' Is Accompanied By Increased Homelessness and Hunger, We Need to Reassess Our Economic Indicators

20/06/2014 13:12 BST | Updated 20/08/2014 10:59 BST

A Guardian poll this week indicated that many Brits are not feeling the benefits of the economic 'recovery' we're told is taking place in the UK.

Despite recent announcements that employment is on the rise and GDP has returned to pre-crisis levels, the Guardian found that few of us are reaping the rewards; according to the poll, only 18% of families feel they are benefiting from the recovery, whilst 46% say they are not.

This clearly indicates the stark disparity between the supposed economic recovery celebrated by the Government, and the actual experiences of people in the UK.

This is because the indicators which Government and economists often use to measure the state of our economy do not measure living standards, and there is certainly no consideration for how wealth is distributed in this country. Indeed, the economic indicators currently used to guide policy and, often, to sway public opinion, are incredibly narrow.

Take GDP, or 'gross domestic product' - the key indicator in our current economic system. GDP is a measure of the value of goods and services produced within the country's borders, and we're being told by Government and economists that GDP is up 0.2% since pre-crisis levels. But what does this actually mean for the public?

GDP growth is often accompanied by increased employment, and the recent rise in employment is clearly encouraging news. But what current economic indicators conceal is the accompanying rise in insecure work and zero hours contracts, and the lack of increase in real wages (adjusted for inflation). When you take these factors into account, the picture we're presented of 'increased employment' begins to look a lot less rosy.

Consider that in spite of our economic 'recovery', this year food poverty in the UK has risen by 170% , and last winter saw an increase in fuel poverty as energy bills continued to rise. Looking at the reality so many people face, it's no wonder that people aren't buying this 'recovery' narrative.

If we want a real indicator of people's living standards, we need to look beyond the conventional measures of economic progress. What our country needs is not to be patronized by politicians and economists touting latest GDP figures as good news for all, whilst overlooking the increasing levels of poverty and desperation our country is experiencing.

Our Government needs a reality check; celebration of our economy's 'recovery' cannot, and should not, take place until we see dramatic improvements in living standards, and not just of those already at the top of the pile.

Rather than celebrating some abstract figure, the Greens are serious about creating an economy which serves the common good; an economy based on secure jobs that pay and enable people to live full lives.

And rather than leaving it to chance to see whether living conditions improve, the Green Party would secure improvements through far-reaching policy changes. From implementing a living wage, to capping the ratio of the highest to lowest pay in organisations, we'd ensure that poverty and inequality are tackled head on, rather than kicked into the long grass. What we need is to create sustainable jobs that pay well and enable a better future for us all.