May has completely failed to tackle the UK’s burning injustices, says Corbyn
Theresa May’s Government has “completely failed” to take action to tackle “burning injustices” in the UK, according to Jeremy Corbyn.
The Labour leader began Prime Minister’s Questions by highlighting a Social Mobility Commission report, which warned inequality will remain entrenched in Britain “from birth to work” without urgent Government action.
Touching on Thursday’s local elections, Mr Corbyn said: “For many people, this Government has delivered nothing but failure.”
He recalled Mrs May’s pledge to fight against “burning social injustices” on her first day in office, before flagging the commission’s report.
Mr Corbyn asked: “Can the Prime Minister now admit that her Government has completely failed to take action to tackle the burning injustices?”
Mrs May said the commission’s chairwoman, Dame Martina Milburn, had highlighted a “real commitment in Government to try to make a difference in this area”, before telling MPs: “I want everyone to have the opportunity to reach their potential, whatever their background.
“And that’s why we’re improving education, helping to create higher-paid jobs, we’re boosting home ownership.”
Mr Corbyn said the reality is “things are getting worse” under the Government, adding: “Life expectancy in Britain is falling for the first time since 1945.
“Where does the Prime Minister think this Government has gone wrong when we’ve reached the point where people now expect to live shorter lives than they did in the past?”
Mrs May replied: “It is not the case that people now are expecting to live shorter lives than they have done.”
But Mr Corbyn said a “record 1.6 million food parcels were given out last year alone”, attacking the Government’s policies for creating a situation where “in one of the richest countries on this earth food banks are now handing out 14 millions meals a year to people, some of whom are in work, who simply haven’t got enough to eat”.
Mrs May began her response by saying the “best route out of poverty…” before she was roundly heckled, with Speaker John Bercow forced to intervene.
She added that the best route (out of poverty) was through work, and that her Government had seen “record numbers of people in employment” and was helping people “keep more money in their pockets” with tax cuts and wage increases.
But Mr Corbyn said: “Many of those people receiving food parcels – which has increased by 600,000 in four years – are actually people in work because of the low wages that they are on.”
He added that even the PM’s “own Secretary of State admitted that Universal Credit has caused people to rely on food banks”.
Mr Corbyn also said there was a crisis in funding for adult social care, and that “things are getting worse on our streets too” with rises in serious violence, robberies and knife crime.
Mrs May said overall “crime is actually down by a third” and attacked Mr Corbyn for not backing the £960 million funding settlement for the police, adding that: “I’ll take no lectures from someone who voted against more money for the police and voted against tougher laws on knife crime.”
The Labour leader finished by again repeating his claim that “under this Government things in our country are getting worse”, saying: “Poverty is up, waiting times are up, violent crime is up, all under a Government that seems to care more about pushing its very damaging austerity agenda than tackling the burning social injustices.
“Ahead of tomorrow’s elections in England, can the Prime Minister explain that from social care to crime, from life expectancy to poverty, things are getting worse under her Government?”
The PM hit back, saying: “The biggest cash boost to the NHS in its history under this Conservative Government, more people in work than ever before, more children in good and outstanding schools getting the opportunities for their futures.
“And what do we see from Conservative councils up and down the country? Conservative councils give better services; they recycle more; they fix more potholes and they charge lower taxes.
“A vote for Labour is a vote for mismanagement, worse service and higher taxes. It’s Conservative councils that give better services and charge you less.”