Theresa May Told To 'Get Serious' About Helping The Poor

Households have been pushed £1,250 into the red since PM walked into Downing Street.
TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady speaking at the TUC conference at the Brighton Centre in Brighton.
TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady speaking at the TUC conference at the Brighton Centre in Brighton.
PA Archive/PA Images

Theresa May has been warned to “get serious” about the promises she made on the steps of Downing Street, after research revealed household budgets have been pushed £1,250 since she took power.

An analysis by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has shown that in every quarter since the PM took the top job in 2016, families’ outgoings have outstripped their incomes, adding to a total UK deficit of £34bn.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said families are living “on the edge” as she called on May to refocus on domestic issues rather than Brexit.

When she was named Conservative leader, and therefore prime minister, May pledged her government would help those who were “just about managing”.

But an epidemic of debt continues to dog working people’s lives, with the Office for National Statistics reporting a shortfall of £900 per household in 2017, marking the first time in more than 30 years that average spending has outstripped income.

In an interview with HuffPost, O’Grady also said the chances of a breakaway party forming on the left was “slim to none” and that potential PM Boris Johnson was “past it”.

O’Grady said unlike in the 80s when borrowing was financing high spending, people in 2018 are borrowing simply to maintain a decent standard of living.

The ONS says the shortfall is concentrated over the poorest fifth of households.

“Theresa May has abandoned the promises she made when she moved into Downing Street,” said O’Grady.

“Two years on, working families can’t make ends meet without being forced into the red. And the May government has done nothing to get wages rising or to crack down on epidemic of insecure work.

“It’s time for the prime minister to get serious about domestic issues. Families on the edge need more than empty words.

“For a start, she must do something to tackle insecure work. More than a year after the Taylor report on modern work was published, it is still gathering dust.”

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who has repeatedly used his Daily Telegraph column to criticise the PM since leaving the Cabinet, is not prime minister material, O’Grady added.

Amid speculation some moderate Labour MPs are considering splitting from Labour, O’Grady said she was “not aware of any MPs actively considering it”.

“Anyone with their head screwed on knows that Britain’s electoral system does not favour new parties,” she added. “I think in Labour’s case, we saw how destructive the breakaway of the SDP was and how it took a generation to recover.

“I think a hard lesson was learned. Labour is a broad church and you win when you are not united, not divided.”

Since taking office, May has pledged to build more homes, costs of which are the single biggest outgoing for working people, cap energy bills and has extended the free childcare policy.

While the government continues to come in for heavy criticism over the rollout of Universal Credit and stagnant wages, defenders of the PM’s programme for government have also pointed out that joblessness has hit a`43-year low.


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