Shocking levels of child poverty in Coventry – time to fight against capitalism

Shocking levels of child poverty in Coventry – time to fight against capitalism

Coventry City Council

Figures from the End Child Poverty coalition have shown that in seven wards in Coventry, more than a third of children now live in poverty.

The highest rate is in St Michaels ward, which has a staggering child poverty rate of 52.7%. In Foleshill, the rate is 49.2% – affecting 3,400 children, the highest number of all the wards. (It is 2400 children in St Michaels ward).

Earlsdon ward has the lowest rate in Coventry, but even there, the poverty rate is 11.7%, affecting almost 300 children.

In total, the rate across the whole of Coventry is 32.7% – there are 24,931 children in the city living in poverty.

This is a major problem nationally – in 2015, 21 electoral wards had at least 50% child poverty rates. Now, it is 87 wards across the country which have that rate.

Clearly government cuts to benefits as part of the Tory austerity agenda, combined with rising living costs are to blame. But here in Coventry, the role of local Labour councillors in carrying out cuts and implementing austerity cannot be ignored.

Libraries and youth centres face closures, while cuts have had an impact on social services across the city.

Add to this the rise in council tax, going hand in hand with cuts to the council tax support scheme – due to affect large numbers of Coventry’s poorest households. Labour councillors need to be standing up against austerity and helping to organise resistance to the Tory agenda – if they don’t they need to be challenged.

This Tory government is weak and in crisis, and could be brought down by mass movements channelling the anger against austerity.

This is the sixth richest country in the world – the child poverty here in Coventry is a stark example of the complete failure of the capitalist system, and shows the vital need for an alternative.

Now more than ever, it is time to fight for socialism.

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Two surveys; one root cause

Two surveys; one root cause

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Thousands march against austerity

By a socialist trade unionist in Coventry

Two recently released surveys have once again illustrated the situation facing working class people in the UK. They are a stark reminder, if anyone needed it, that life is getting worse not better under the Tories. A survey for the Trades Union Congress (TUC) showed that 1 in 8 workers are skipping meals because of pressure on their incomes, whilst nearly half are concerned about meeting the cost of basic household expenses such as food, gas and electricity. The report from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) shows similar trends. It states

“Since the 1970s the share of national income which has gone to wages has gradually declined, from 80% to 73%, while the share going to profits has increased. The wage share is now the lowest it has been since the second world war.”

Amongst many other interesting facts and figures, it shows that the UK is experiencing the worst wage stagnation for 150 years and that the country is the most unequal in Europe, with one third of children living in poverty. Shockingly, more of the poor are from households that are in work, rather than out of work.

The report calls for a change in direction in the UK economy including higher taxation, regulation and stronger trade unions. Socialists would support any measures that help narrow the gap between rich and poor and improve the standard of living for ordinary people. However it is also necessary to state clearly that what is needed in the current situation is more than calls for the economy to be nicer and fairer. The cause of the current dire situation for working class people is the capitalist system itself.

Bold socialist policies, including bringing the banks, financial institutions and 150 major corporations in to democratic public ownership are the order of the day. With democratic planning of the vast resources that exist not just in the UK but on a global level, it would be possible for people to be put before profit.

Surveys and reports such as those produced by the TUC and IPPR illustrate the problems we face and are very useful for all those wanting change to provide us with the statistics that help us make our points.

However in the year of the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution and the 150th anniversary of Das Kapital, we need to study and learn the lessons of history both in terms of how capitalism works and how the workers took power for the first time, in order to ensure socialism is victorious against this crisis ridden system.

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2016 – a year of growing discontent

2016 – a year of growing discontent

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Marching to defend youth clubs in Coventry

2016 has been a year of growing discontent and anger at the political and economic system across the world. This has been expressed in many different ways – in the UK with the Brexit vote and the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, in Italy with the referendum vote against Prime Minister Matteo Renzi  and in the US with the election of Donald Trump and the massive protests following his election.

These developments pose challenges, such as the fight for a socialist Brexit in the UK, and building resistance to Trump’s racist and divisive agenda in the US. But they also show the growing anger at the “establishment”, reflected in different ways. A clear anti-austerity message can win people over to a socialist programme.

Here in Coventry there have been campaigns against cuts to local services and the Socialist Party have helped to support these, for example the ongoing battles to save libraries in the city and youth clubs which are so vital for ordinary people in our city. We continued to build opposition to cuts in the health service gaining great support for campaigning to defend the NHS from privatisation and look forward to a big national demonstration on 4th March.

There has also been increasing interest in our socialist ideas in 2016. We held big meetings on the question of Jeremy Corbyn, Trotskyism and the real ideas of the Militant (our forerunner) as well as a public rally putting the socialist case for leaving the EU.

We have been involved in innumerable campaigns and supporting many issues from practical support for workers on strike to honouring the victims of the Orlando massacre and supporting LGBT rights at Coventry Pride.

2017 marks the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, and we will be posting material to mark it. It looks set to be a year of struggle against the Tories, the Blairites, the far-right and the capitalist system as a whole. If you want to join that struggle, fill in the form below!

Lively protest against youth club closures

Lively protest against youth club closures

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‘Keep Cov’s youth clubs!’ On the march through the city centre

Last Saturday saw a lively demonstration take place through Coventry city centre organised by young people opposed to the Council’s plans to close youth clubs in the city.

Despite miserable weather the march won both the attention and support of shoppers as it made it’s way twice through the city of Coventry. The well made and bright placards explained the situation with slogans such as ‘Don’t give up on young people’, ‘More youth clubs, not less!’and ‘We make new friends at youth club’.

If the Council get away with closing these youth clubs it would be yet another hammer blow for ordinary people in the city with libraries and nursery provision also threatened with being cut under the banner of the ‘Connecting Communities’ cuts programme (it would be more accurate to call it ‘Dis-Connecting Communities’). And all of this takes place as the Council makes a bid for Coventry to become the City of Culture!

A petition has been started and we would encourage all readers of this site to sign it by clicking here

Photos of the protest can be viewed here

All Coventry people need to get behind the young people and their supporters campaigning to save their services. The youth are leading the way in fighting back and we need everyone to do the same.

The Socialist Party in Coventry are proud to support this campaign like we have done others in the city against the cuts.

Please see the article below which is the text of a leaflet we have produced against Connecting Communities and how we think the Labour Council should be fighting the government cuts, not implementing them.


‘Connecting Communities’ Stop the latest cuts from the City Council

Councillors should fight austerity – not implement it

Coventry City Council is ‘consulting’ on proposals that will have a devastating impact on Coventry people, and change the nature of vital public services including public libraries, youth work and nursery provision, children’s and youth centres.

The Council wants to get rid of paid staff in the libraries and replace them with volunteers who will work for free. Doesn’t this sound a bit like the ‘Big Society’ of David Cameron and the Tories. Unfortunately it is being introduced by a Labour council here in Coventry.

Last year the council ‘consulted’ over plans to cut £1.2m from libraries and play centres. Despite dozens of meetings the Council largely ignored the opposition and went ahead with closing play centres on Eagle Street and Edgewick, cutting spending on library books and DVDs, and reducing library staff and opening hours. Now they’re coming back for more! 

Right-wing Labour want 3x as much in cuts to libraries, nurseries, youth clubs and community centres next year – £3.8m!

And to rub salt into the wound, whilst the council is again organising meetings to ‘listen to people’s views’, at the very same time it had set up a fund, over £1/2m, to give grants to those who want to take over services under threat.

Jeremy Corbyn has just been re-elected as Labour leader on an anti-austerity platform. However Labour councils like here in Coventry, or in Durham and Derby where they are attacking low paid education workers, are undermining his anti-austerity message.

It’s true the Tories have slashed the amount of money provided to our city. Their only concern is to protest the bankers and the 1%. However Labour locally could be opposing these cuts. For example:

  • Use the reserves to hold off the cuts. The Council has increased its reserves from £40m in 2010 to £84m today. Use some of this money to buy time to build a massive campaign of unions, local communities and service users to demand more money from central government.
  • Councillors should look to link up with other local authorities including calling a conference of councillors and unions from local government to build a massive national campaign to restore funding to our councils.

Unfortunately our Council has done neither of these. Not one Labour Councillor has voted against any of the proposed cuts packages. We need councillors that will fight these cuts and stand up for our communities. At the same time we need build a movement that can challenge capitalist austerity and lead a fight for a socialist system which can guarantee our public services and put the interests of working class people before private profit.

Coventry Socialists campaign against library closures

Coventry Socialists campaign against library closures

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Campaigning in the City Centre

Members of Coventry Socialist Party were campaigning against library closures over the weekend, with a campaign stall in the City Centre and supporting the Save Coventry Libraries campaign at Arena Park Library.

Over 800 people signed the petition over the day, showing how strongly people object to the councils plan to close libraries across Coventry. Some libraries are threatened with closure altogether while some will be closed unless volunteers come forward to run them. Many staff will lose their jobs.

Arena Park is a well used library, but is scheduled to close on August 27th. While campaigning there on Saturday we found that many service users were not aware that it was closing and that there is no alternative provision.

More than 1000 people have signed the petition in total – Coventry Council should listen and not close libraries!

Save Coventry Libraries campaigner Sarah Smith (left) collecting signatures

70 people join lobby of Coventry Council against library closures

70 people join lobby of Coventry Council against library closures

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Lobbying the council – save our libraries!

Around 70 people braved the rain yesterday and joined a lobby of Coventry Labour Council organised by Save Coventry Libraries.

A number of councillors passed the demo and spoke to protesters saying that while they appreciate that libraries are a crucial service, they have no choice but to make cuts and close libraries. Let’s be clear, they do have a choice – the council could use the £84million+ that they have in reserves to fund services for a year, while building a campaign to demand the money back from central Government.

It is unfortunate but not surprising that most of the Labour councillors who voted to close these libraries are opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party. It is a sad state of affairs when they spend more time attacking socialists on Twitter than they do defending the jobs and services of people in Coventry!

Save Coventry Libraries is encouraging people to write to their local councillors and MPs and tell them what your libraries mean to you, and that libraries are a necessity and a basic human right, not a luxury.

The campaign has three upcoming events – “Love Willenhall Library day” on Monday July 25th at 1pm, “Love Arena Park Library day” on Saturday July 30th at 12 noon, and a further lobby of Coventry Council on September 6th at 1pm.

Coventry teachers join national NUT strike

Coventry teachers join national NUT strike

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Protesting outside the Department for Education building in Coventry

Today saw members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) take industrial action against funding cuts to schools, an increasing workload, and schools using unqualified teachers in order in classrooms in order to save money. Members of the NUT say they will continue to take industrial action demanding no more cuts to funding, so they can continue to provide an outstanding education and support for every child to develop and thrive.

Around 80 teachers and other trade unionists protested outside the Department for Education building in Coventry and at Godiva Statue, as well as holding picket lines at schools across the city.

“The 12% reduction in funding to Coventry schools will devastate education in this city. We will see a possible increase of class sizes to 35 and classes taught by unqualified teachers. Teachers will see their workload further increase and it is intolerable now. More and more teachers will leave teaching either by choice or by being made redundant as schools tighten their belts. Parents should be angry that this will impact on their children’s education.” said Nicky Downes, Coventry NUT equalities officer and Socialist Party member.

Since the Tories came into power we have seen attacks on our education, NHS and other public services across the country. Today it was announced that junior doctors have rejected the imposition of a new contract – the next step should be for them to take strike action alongside teachers, as part of the fight against austerity.