activism equality politics

The Stop the Squeeze campaign

A new campaign launched at the end of October, which I kind of missed at the time. A lot was happening. I doubt I was the only one that missed it.

Stop the Squeeze is a response to the cost of living crisis, backed by a coalition of over 40 charities that includes the New Economics Foundation, Possible, Oxfam, Debt Justice and many others. In language that looks more directly aimed at Britain’s last PM rather than the current one – like I say, a lot happened in October – they “condemn ‘failed economics of the past’ and demand bolder solutions on cost of living.”

Specifically, the Stop the Squeeze campaign focuses on three big asks that have broad support among the public. They are:

  1. Affordable and clean energy – reforms to the energy market and investment in renewable energy could bring zero carbon energy to everyone, addressing energy poverty and climate emissions at the same time. As energy prices have risen more sharply in Britain than elsewhere in Europe, it’s clear that there are specific weaknesses in the energy markets that need reform.
  2. A living income for all – a rise in the minimum wage, and reforms to social security that ensure nobody is left behind in a crisis. The campaign also calls for the government to link future changes in welfare payments to the cost of living, in order to avoid stealth budget cuts.
  3. Higher wealth taxes – taxes should be rebalanced away from income and more towards wealth, ensuring that the highest earners pay a fair share. This has support even among Conservative voters, 62% of whom back higher taxes on the wealthy, so it’s something the government could deliver with confidence rather rushing towards austerity.

Britain today is facing declining living standards and moving backwards on equality and opportunity, but this is not new and unexpected. There are underlying problems that predate the crisis of 2022. Wages have not kept pace with expenses, the benefits system is harder to navigate and less dependable, and more people are struggling with their energy bills even as energy corporations post record profits. The economy works best for those who already have more than they need, while those who would benefit most from economic growth are at the back of the queue.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Political decisions are made about who matters and who does not, who should be protected and bailed out in a crisis, and who can fend for themselves. “We face this scale of crisis because of decisions made by those in the driving seat of our economy,” says the Stop the Squeeze campaign. “Successive governments have failed to prioritise the wellbeing, security and prosperity of ordinary people and build a balanced economy that benefits everyone.”

At this point it’s hard to tell if Stop the Squeeze will grow into a campaigning force or not, but you can find out more about the campaign on their website, and follow them on Twitter to find out.

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