The Blog

I Abhor the Neoliberal Ideology Which Prizes Wealth Creation and Individualism - So I Became an Entrepreneur

The political establishment's attachment to wealth creation and private profit will do this country no good, and I welcome the growing tide of opposition.

Looking at the impact that this government's policies have had on women, the young, the poor and the disabled is demoralising.

Of the £14.9 billion saved so far by austerity cuts, £11.1 billion has come from women. In 2013, for the first time in five years, the gender pay gap widened, and under the coalition the UK's gender equality rating has slipped worryingly. The bedroom tax has had a devastating effect on the disabled; it has been revealed that a dramatic rise in homelessness is a result of government cuts to housing benefits; and the rising male suicide rate has been linked to austerity. Overall, this government has overseen a significant transfer of wealth from the poorest to the richest.

But it's not just the policies of austerity that are damaging, it's the narrative that they're built into. It's a narrative which sees unemployment as a choice, poverty as a character flaw, and vulnerability as an excuse.

I was angered when I first read David Cameron's reasoning behind cutting Job-seekers' Allowance for 18-25s: "to end the idea that aged 18 you leave school, go and leave home, claim unemployment benefit and claim housing benefit." But I was even more distressed to see this sentiment echoed almost verbatim by an audience member on last week's question time, who argued that forcing young people to work for thirty hours a week in order to claim £57 of benefits should not be seen as penalising but as an opportunity - because it would encourage the young jobless to "get out of bed" and do something.

This attitude among the working public is not a coincidence - it's a result of a careful propaganda campaign by the coalition government, using tactics such as Osborne's misleading letters telling the taxpayer just how much of their money is being spent on welfare. This shift to the right in both government policy and in some public opinion is deeply worrying.

But it's my loathing for the idea that cutting welfare budgets and help for those at the bottom is right because if you work hard enough, you'll make it, that made me become an entrepreneur.

I co-founded an ethical, co-operative business in order to fight the neoliberal values which prize wealth creation above all else; I am putting my time and energy into starting a new company which will give to charity each month because I know that not everyone has had the opportunities which I have. I don't want to become a 'wealth creator' - the kind of business that both Labour and the Conservatives are falling over themselves to be friendly to - and I don't want to prove that anyone can be rich and successful if they try hard enough. I want to make Empowered Apparel a company that exists to benefit people, not make profit: by operating ethically, by working to promote marginalised voices, and by providing an example of a successful women-run business.

I'm not alone: ventures such as the Real Junk Food Project show that many are beginning to reject the growing capitalism of the UK and turn to a different model. The political establishment's attachment to wealth creation and private profit will do this country no good, and I welcome the growing tide of opposition.

Before You Go