Unite warns savage cuts will unleash a “poverty whirlwind” on our communities

The leader of the country’s biggest union warned today (Saturday October 20) that a ‘poverty whirlwind’ will sweep through Britain’s communities if this government presses on with plans to impose savage cuts.

Speaking ahead of the TUC-organised march, which will see thousands of people march through the capital in protest against the government’s austerity-only policy, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said that with living standards already crumbling people simply will not be able to cope with further punishment from the government.

Some 90 percent of cuts have yet to be imposed by the coalition. With the axe falling heaviest on the low and unwaged from April next year, as the government attacks essential income and housing support for the poor, Unite warns that the UK is not a place to be vulnerable.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said:

“People are already borrowing hundreds of pounds to get by each month. We know – and the government knows full well – that millions of low waged workers are just about keeping their heads above water. Yet this government is going to crush their last vestiges of hope by attacking housing and income help. The poverty that will follow will engulf our communities for generations to come.

“What thanks is this for bailing out the bankers?

“In coalition Britain, big businesses and energy giants can laugh at the government's failure to rein them in and dance around their social responsibilities, while bankers can shower themselves in bonus cash.

“But be poor, be vulnerable, be sick or in need and this government will show no mercy.

“There is not a shred of economic evidence to support this austerity addiction but plenty to warn about the dire outcomes for ordinary people. Failure to think again is not just heartless, but a senseless assault on our country’s stability.”

Unite members have already reported drops in weekly income of around £66 per week since the budget in April this year. In the six months since the budget, they report borrowing on credit cards and from payday lenders has increased by £128 per month to £328, approximately one week’s wages.

For interview requests ahead of the march or on the day please contact:

Pauline Doyle on: 07976 832 861
Ciaran Naidoo on: 07768 931 315
Shaun Noble on: 07768 693 940

Notes to editors: Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.