NINE-DAY OCCUPATION OF PARLIAMENT SQUARE STARTS WITH OVERNIGHT VIGIL FOR THE ERADICATION OF POVERTY

PRESS RELEASE ++++ 17th OCTOBER ++++ OCCUPY DEMOCRACY

A nine-day occupation of Parliament Square[i] starts this evening at 5pm with an overnight vigil to mark the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

This will be a candlelit event with speakers addressing the causes of the rising inequality both in the UK and globally including John Hilary (Executive Director, War on Want), Ruth London (Fuel Poverty Action), Reverend Dr Keith Hebden  (author of Seeking Justice: The Radical Compassion of Jesus) and Kofi Mawuli-Klu  (Pan-African Reparations Coalition in Europe).

Matilda Wnek of Occupy London said “We will stand in solidarity with those suffering acute poverty and homelessness in the UK, and with the victims of our foreign policy abroad which impoverishes and exploits our fellow men, women and children through economic, diplomatic and military means. We invite members of faith, development and poverty groups to join us. Just bring a candle in a jam jar and in case of rain, an umbrella – yellow if possible.”

In the UK today, record numbers of people are homeless, record numbers rely on food banks to feed their families, and record numbers face fuel poverty as energy prices rise eight times faster than wages. Yet while the poor are getting poorer, the rich are getting richer:

  • In 2013, 85 individuals owned the same amount of wealth as that owned by the poorest half of the world’s entire population. In 2014 that number went down to just 67 individuals.[ii]
  • In the UK the disposable incomes of the richest 20% of the population rose by £940 while the rest of the population’s declined by £250. The poorest 20% got poorer by £381.[iii]

As Oxfam reported in Tale of Two Britains[iv] in March: “Inequality is a growing problem in the UK. While austerity measures in Britain continue to hit the poorest families hardest, a wealthy elite has seen their incomes spiral upwards, exacerbating income inequality which has grown under successive governments over the last quarter of a century.”

George Barda of Occupy London said: “Nobody voted to be made homeless, hungry or unemployed. The 80% of Britons who got poorer over the last year never voted to transfer their money to the rich. Rising inequality is yet another symptom of our broken democracy which we will continue to challenge and expose over the course of the coming nine days in Parliament Square.”

Contact: 07424 934658

[i] https://occupydemocracy.org.uk/category/press/

[ii] http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesinsights/2014/03/25/the-67-people-as-wealthy-as-the-worlds-poorest-3-5-billion/

[iii] http://inequalitybriefing.org/brief/briefing-42-incomes-increased-for-the-richest-last-year-but-fell-for-everyo

[iv] http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/a-tale-of-two-britains-inequality-in-the-uk-314152

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