On 22nd April Natalie Bennett, Leader of The Green Party, speaking at Sheffield Students’ Union she said:
“Britain is the sixth richest country in the world- and it’s a country now becoming as known for its food banks as it is for its football.
Today’s figures from the Trussell Trust are as saddening as they are unsurprising. More families that ever before are relying on food handouts to put meals on the table. More workers are struggling to get by on poverty pay, and more people are suffering as a result of Government policies that are hitting the poorest hardest.
More than one million people used food banks last year. In Britain. In a country where the richest 1% have the same wealth as the poorest 55%.
It’s clearer than ever that we need a different kind of politics in this country. We need a politics that looks at and is willing to address the root causes of the poverty that is afflicting our country.
And that is where the Green Party come in. Unlike the other parties, who are chained to their slogans about hard working families, we are standing up for a very important principle.
That is: that our benefits system should be there for anyone who needs it, and provide enough for people to get by on without fear of hunger.
That we don’t think that punitive sanctions will lift people out of poverty – in fact they are morally indefensible and deeply damaging – and that it is the duty of Government to ensure that our economy provides decently paid jobs for all those looking for work.
That principle: that those at the bottom of society shouldn’t be made to pay for the mistakes and fraud of the bankers, runs through everything we are doing as a party.
We believe that poverty is a result of political decisions – and that only a new kind of politics can overturn the race to the bottom on wages and benefits that we’ve seen for too long in this country.
That’s why our manifesto has two clear commitments that I want to spell out today.
The first is that nobody who is working should be paid less than a Living Wage. Weak commitments to minor increases in the Minimum Wage aren’t enough. We say that we want an immediate living wage for workers and a £10 an hour Minimum Wage by 2020.
And secondly we’re saying what no one else will: That benefits payments should rise, that those at the very bottom shouldn’t be continually asked to pay the price of others’ mistakes and that the cruel, unnecessary benefits sanction regime must be overhauled.
We won’t win the battle against poverty with warm words alone. We need action – and you can rest assured that a strong group of Green MPs in Parliament – and I’m feeling confident that Gillian Creasy here in Sheffield central will be among them – will put the poorest and most vulnerable in society at the centre of the work they’re doing over the next five years.”
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