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Tory proposals deliver more pain for the poor and vulnerable

'TWO-FACED’: Prime Minister Theresa May promised to make life easier for the hard-pressed, but the Government is doing little to help them

THERESA MAY put on her caring face when she spoke on the steps of Downing Street on taking office in July. She promised to make life easier for hard-pressed and vulnerable people in this country.

But we saw the hard face of the Prime Minister when she sat next to Chancellor Philip Hammond last week as he delivered yet another Tory plan that did little to improve the lives of working people who are struggling to cope and earn a living for their families. It is clear that the Government’s austerity plan has failed.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was right all along, and all of the pain of austerity that the Tories put people through has been for nothing. The Government is now desperately trying to fix what they have broken. Even where they are trying to undo their own damage, they are not going far enough.

If they were serious about helping struggling people, they would implement a real living wage, as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation.

I am particularly concerned about the fate of diverse communities who have already suffered under Tory cuts in recent years. Diverse communities were disproportionally affected by George Osborne’s failed Budgets.

A report by the Runnymede Trust called Budget 2015: Effects on Black and Minority Ethnic People showed that people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds were “twice as likely” as white people to be affected by the Budget cuts.

Mrs May herself has ordered a race audit to understand the disproportional impact of her Government’s cuts, and yet still she is presiding over more cuts. A good example of two-faced Theresa.

Since David Cameron ended the requirement for Government departments to conduct equality impact assessments, there has been a worrying lack of care for the impact of Government policy on those with protected characteristics. Clearly, they have failed to conduct such an assessment on the plans in this Autumn Statement, or they would have changed course.

African Caribbean, Asian, minority ethnic, disabled and working class households are statistically more likely to be in poverty and this Autumn Statement does nothing to improve their lives. I know how hard it is for people from diverse communities to succeed and Mrs May, on the steps of Number 10, acknowledged that if you are born poor, you will die on average nine years earlier – and yet two faced Theresa is still pushing through policies which will make people poorer.

The Government has again failed to deal with zero-hours contracts, which impacts the most vulnerable in society. While these contracts are good public relations (PR) and get people off the unemployment register, they provide no job security. People who rely on zero-hours contracts cannot plan their future.

African Caribbean, Asian and minority ethnic women are more likely to work in the public sector and are more vulnerable to the devastating cuts. This is yet another reminder about life as a woman under a Tory Government. The Chancellor’s failure to fully abandon the flawed austerity agenda and reverse their ideological cuts shows that this Government has not changed. Mrs May was at the table when these devastating cuts were first made, and now she’s the head of the table, and there is a crisis on her watch.

The Tories under Theresa May continue to fail people from diverse and black and minority ethic (BME) communities and never again can she claim to care about the many and not the few.

Dawn Butler is Labour MP for Brent Central and is shadow minister for diverse communities.

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