Labour will eliminate the “modern-day scourge” of in-work poverty by the end of the party’s first full term back in office, John McDonnell is to promise.
The shadow chancellor will pledge to make structural changes to the economy, ensure public services are free at the point of use, and provide a strong social safety net to tackle the issue if his party enters government.
McDonnell is due to set out his party’s plans in a speech at the launch of the Resolution Foundation’s Living Standards Audit on Wednesday morning.
He will say: “Behind the concept of social mobility is the belief that poverty is OK as long as some people are given the opportunity to climb out of it, leaving the others behind.
“I reject that completely, and want to see a society with higher living standards for everyone as well as one in which nobody lacks the means to survive or has to choose between life’s essentials.”
McDonnell will call for a “structurally different economy, a social safety net of shared public service provision, and of course a financial safety net as well”.
“Without any one of these three elements, we will not be able to achieve the sustained eradication of poverty, the dramatic narrowing of inequality, and the transformation of people’s lives that will be the central purpose of the next Labour government.
“The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) said last year that ‘in-work poverty is the problem of our times’.
“I am committing today to ending this modern-day scourge, to eliminating in-work poverty by the end of Labour’s first full parliamentary term.
“We’ll need all three of the policy approaches I’ve outlined to make that happen.
“As chancellor in the next Labour government, I want you to judge me by how much we reduce poverty and how much we create a more equal society. By how much people’s lives change for the better. Because that is our number one goal.”
JRF executive director Claire Ainsley commended Labour’s “significant ambition” as being “the right thing to do”.
“With more working families unable to make ends meet, people are frustrated at the failure of politics to unlock the jobs, investment and opportunities needed so their families and local economies can thrive,” she said.
The top priority for politicians should be to improve living standards and support struggling towns and cities, Ms Ainsley said.
“Delivering this commitment should be the number one focus for political leaders after Brexit. That way we can bring the country back together and ensure everyone has the opportunity to build a better life.”