Jeremy Corbyn’s 2016 conference address – 6: threats to social security
Our party will be unapologetic about reforming our economy to challenge inequality and protect workers better. And internationally Labour will be a voice for engagement in partnership with those who share our values, supporting the authority of international law and international institutions, not acting against them.
The global environment is in peril. We need to be part of an international movement to cut emissions and pollution, to combat the environmental danger to our planet. These are crucial issues. A Green New Deal will invest in renewable energy and energy conservation to tackle the threat of climate change. The Tories of course are selling off the Green Investment Bank. They are simply not interested in this. This is the only way to a strong economic future for Britain that’s sustainable. But I also want to add this.
The Tories talk about economic and family security being at risk from us the Labour party, or perhaps even more particularly, from me.
I say this to them. How dare these people talk about security for families and people in Britain?
- Where’s the security for families shuttled around the private rented sector on six month tenancies – with children endlessly having to change schools?
- Where’s the security for those tenants afraid to ask a landlord to fix a dangerous structure in their own homes because they might be evicted because they’ve gone to the local authority to seek the justice they’re entitled to?
- Where’s the security for the carers struggling to support older family members as Tory local government cuts destroy social care and take away the help they need?
- Where’s the security for young people starting out on careers knowing they are locked out of any prospect of ever buying their own home by soaring house prices?
- Where’s the security for families driven away from their children’s schools, their community and family ties by these welfare cuts?
- Where’s the security for the hundreds of thousands taking on self-employment with uncertain income, no sick pay, no Maternity Pay, no paid leave, no pension now facing the loss of the tax credits that keep them and their families afloat?
- And there’s no security for the 2.8 million households in Britain forced into debt by stagnating wages and the Tory record of the longest fall in living standards since records began.
And the Institute of Fiscal Studies has shown Cameron’s broken promises mean millions of workers are still left far worse off. They can and must be changed. There is nothing good about cutting support to the children of supermarket workers and cleaners. There is nothing good about leaving hundreds of thousands unable to feed themselves, driving them to foodbanks that have almost become an institution. And there is nothing good about a Prime Minister wandering around Europe trying to bargain away the rights that protect our workers.
As our Conference decided yesterday we will oppose that and stand up for the vision of a social Europe, a Europe of unity and solidarity, to defend those rights.
In my leadership campaign I set out some ideas for how we should support small businesses and the self-employed. That’s because one in seven of the labour force now work for themselves. But with that independence comes insecurity and risk especially for those on the lowest and most volatile incomes. There’s no Statutory Sick Pay if they have an accident at work. There’s no Statutory Maternity Pay for women when they become pregnant. They have to spend time chasing bigger firms to pay their invoices on time, so they don’t slip further into debt. They earn less than other workers. On average just £11,000 a year. Consider opening up Statutory Maternity and Paternity Pay to the self-employed so all new born children can get the same level of care from their parents.
So I want our policy review to tackle this in a really serious way. And be reflective of what modern Britain is actually like. Labour created the welfare state as an expression of a caring society – but all too often that safety net has holes in it, people fall through it, and it is not there for the self-employed. It must be. That is the function of a universal welfare state.