Poverty in the UK today is real.

And the greatest danger to our society is 
us allowing that to become acceptable. 

Our country should be a place where 
everyone has the chance of a 
decent and secure life, 
no matter where they live. 

But today, millions of people in the UK 
- many of them working - are held back 
because they are living in poverty.

Now poverty means not being able to 
heat your home, or pay your rent, 
or buy the essentials for your children. 
It means waking up every day facing 
insecurity and uncertainty, 
impossible decisions about money. 

But more than this, it means constant 
stress that can overwhelm people, 
affecting them emotionally and
physically, depriving them of the 
chance to play a full part in our society.

It is shameful that in the 21st century, 
13 million people in our country are 
struggling to make ends meet. 
Our national life is a conversation, 
it’s a dialogue - how much poorer is it 
if only certain people get to join in that 
conversation, if 13 million of those 
voices struggle to be heard. 

I see the dangers of poverty in a place 
like Port Talbot, my hometown, 
where my family still lives. I see it 
in the lives of people I grew up with, 
went to school with, played 
football with. I see it in my own family.  

The whole town faces an uncertain future, 
with the steelworks up for sale, with 
public services continuing to suffer 
and many more cuts on the way. 

And in the towns and villages across 
the South Wales valleys and beyond, 
decimated by de-industrialisation 
- many feel abandoned and forgotten. 
Left behind. There has to be a vision 
to turn this around. We can’t let this 
keep happening to our towns and cities.

When a factory or even an entire industry 
starts to shut down, the responsibility of 
government and of society is to do 
everything it can to ensure that poverty 
does not take hold in that community. 
Fight for opportunities and prospects, 
something to work for, 
something to hope for.

It’s time for governments, business and 
communities to work together to solve 
poverty once and for all. Every single 
one of us has a part to play – and I know 
there are hundreds of businesses, 
employers, communities, groups and 
individuals already working to 
solve poverty in different ways.

Think how powerful our efforts would be 
if they were combined.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has 
produced the first comprehensive strategy 
to solve poverty in a generation. 
They have a bold vision for everyone 
in the UK to have a decent and secure 
life, and a practical plan to boost 
incomes and reduce costs; improve 
education and skills; and strengthen 
families, communities and our economy.  

The question they asked me, and the 
question I now ask you, is what can 
you do, what more can you do, in your 
business, your community, with your power
to solve poverty in a generation?