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?