At this event we were joined by a few other members of the Centre team in Liverpool including Jasneet Samrai and Ryan Frendo. At the event Torrin explained just how large the six million people we calculated have been excluded from support really is. He also spoke about how it compares to Liverpool itself, the COVID-19 memorial wall, Wales, Scotland and Cyprus. He then spoke about the individual stories he heard whilst researching the issue of people who had been excluded and couldn’t support themselves.
He also explained the economic case for including more people in the schemes. Including more people would act as a small stimulus package for the economy and would help to boost the economy. Torrin also explained how this could help to boost tax revenue and in turn that money could be spent on our education and health system.
You can see photos of the event here:
Read the full transcript here:
Pauline: Please welcome our next speaker, from the Centre Think Tank, the Director Torrin Wilkins. *applause*
Oh he’s behind me.
Torrin: It is pantomime.
Thank you very much for that lovely welcome! So today, I want to do something a little bit different as when I was first asked to do this by the Excluded Unity Alliance, the conversation we had was about how do we get people to actually understand the problem. You see because we’ve had Twitter bombs, we’ve had videos, we’ve had TV appearances, newspapers. All of it. And yet, nothing. The Government has not done a thing, it hasn’t lifted a finger. The question is, what do we do, how do we get this message across? And I realised how at the last rally that we did. If any of you have been to London recently, or you were at that last rally, there is a COVID memorial wall that runs a third of a mile down through London. If you go there you see that yeah, the pandemic has been awful. We hear every single day about figures, like 150,000 people who have died, but you don’t understand how awful it is until you walk down that wall. Because when you walk down that wall, you see people’s names and you realise that those people who died they are grandparents, they are parents, and suddenly it hits home that that number is not just a number anymore. So our figures, we predict that about 6 million people, have been excluded, tops.
Now if you look at that and you were to make the same kind of wall it would be 13 miles in length. Just imagine a trip down that wall, all the way down. Looking at each and every heart with peoples names on them and realising the numbers and the scale. Because thats what we are dealing with here is not something small, it is not just a headline figure. It is an enormous number of people each with their own individual stories. Another example was, obviously we are here in Liverpool today. Its 12 times the size of Liverpool. 12 times. Everyone you’ve walked past today, everyone who lives here. It is 12 times. The other one is Wales, now I spent a few years in Wales and realised its an enormous country. Even some European countries like Cyprus. Nowhere close.
And that really hits home that actually six million is an enormous number but as I said it doesn’t get past the fact that there are so many people and so many individual stories. And in some ways through that pandemic I’ve been lucky enough to speak to those people. I’ve spoken to about one hundred people who have been excluded and in those stories you hear stories about their mental health suffering because they haven’t got any money the fact that they are drowning in debt, they simply cannot pay their way, that they’ve fallen through Universal Credit and aren’t able to support themselves and in a lot of cases they are just struggling to put food on the table day by day. And that really hits home because you suddenly realise that each of those people, each of them had their own story. They’ve gone through something different and I think really it was a real sign of how bad things have gotten. And then there was another thing I though going down that wall. I have spoken to a lot of people who have been forced to go into work. They had to shield, they should have been shielding, and yet they did not have a choice. They didn’t have the money to support themselves. They didn’t have the money to support themselves. They didn’t get self-employed grants. They didn’t get furlough so they had to go into work. And that was the one number I didn’t want to know which was the number of people that who had to go into work and yet they caught the virus because they shouldn’t have been there. That for me really shows that there is a lot things you can say about the government at the moment but doing that, allowing that to happen is complete neglect and then of course you have those twenty five people who sadly took their own lives because of this. That really shows the scale of this. All the way from that six million people all the way down to those twenty five. And I think that for me was really the moment that I started to realise the absolute scale of this crisis.
And of course we’ve had so many plans put forwards now. In Northern Ireland they have working plans, same as in Wales. They have plans that are working in place including more people. And the government has done nothing about it. You have TIGS, you have the Directors Income Support Scheme by Rebecca Seeley Harris. Nothing. The government spoke but did absolutely nothing. We came up with plans, dozens of plans, that would include millions of people in these schemes and the government again did nothing. They have sat by and just let it all happen and in some ways thats where I think there is another perspective which is about the economic argument because at the end of the day this will damage the economy. Its gonna damage the economy, it’s going to hit tax revenue and it’s gonna hit public services.
If we do it now I think we can see it more like an investment. We can see it as an investment in the economy, a stimulus package and that will hit on. That will increase tax revenue and if you increase tax revenue then you can spend more on things like schools, doctors, nurses and you do that and eventually it gets back to the economy. You have better education, healthier, happier workers. It is a simple loop. It is not just one action. It is not just about helping those people, it is also about hard economics. So there is a very simple reason for doing this. So really I think it is about those two things. It is about helping people but it is also about economics. So I am glad we doing this. I am glad we are going up and down the country trying to push for this trying to get people included, as many as we can. Because of those two things, because of the fact that this government had left them behind.
So thankyou very much!