The ‘attack on the working class’ will be debated at the annual Berwick-upon-Tweed and District Trades Council day next month.
This year’s event, entitled ‘Berwick People’s Assembly: The attack on Working Class and what to do about It’, takes place on Saturday, November 2.
Backed by a number of high profile figures including Tony Benn, Len McLuskey and columnist and commentator Owen Jones, the People’s Assembly is now a nationwide movement with local groups being established all over the UK.
It was set up to push the arguments against austerity and to fight for those people “hit by Government policies”, including low-paid workers, disabled people, unemployed, the young, and ethnic minorities.
Martin McCleary, one of the organisers of the Berwick event, explained: “Ordinary people are paying for a crisis they had absolutely nothing to do with and people need a platform as they are being airbrushed out of history by the media.
“We are the sixth richest economy in the world, yet 350,000 people are relying on foodbanks to survive. These people are not all ‘feckless’ scroungers, rather they are ill, unemployed, divorced, disabled or have had their benefits cut.
“We live in an area all too familiar with the cuts,” Mr McClearly said.
“Northumberland has one of the highest proportions of rent arrears since the introduction of the bedroom tax, and our economy is built on part time or zero hour contracts.”
Unemployment, particularly amongst the young, is one of the major concerns for the People’s Assembly, as well as a lack of investment in social housing, and the “demonising” of the welfare state.
“The papers are full of stories about benefit fraud and yes of course it exists, about £1.2 billion a year – less than 1% of all welfare spending,” Mr McCleary said. “Compare that to £25 billion which is avoided in tax by the likes of Amazon, Vodafone and Philip Green.”
The People’s Assembly wants to offer some real alternatives to the problems it believes the country is facing. “It’s all very well shouting at the TV and banging our fists but we need to offer hope,” Mr McClearly said. “Without hope people will not fight back.”
He added: “If anyone is directly affected or disenfranchised with this government’s economic policy then this is an excellent chance to come and debate the issues and try and make a difference.”