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30th-May-2017

Gulf in living standards at heart of UK election battle

By AFP, London


Although Britain's economic growth is ticking along in the run-up to the general election, flat wages and the government's austerity programme continue to bite and cause anger among those left behind.
A world away from the glistening skyscrapers of London's City finance district, normal life for some resembles that depicted in last year's Cannes winner "I, Daniel Blake".
The British film's protagonists, in the northeastern English city of Newcastle, battle with the impact of cuts to social services in place since 2010, struggling to make ends meet and relying on food banks.
Widening living standards is a hot topic in the looming general election due June 8, and one that analysts say played a crucial role in last year's shock referendum vote in favour of the country's exit from the European Union.
The Brexit verdict has been framed by some commentators as a reflection of the social divide between the haves and the have-nots in one of the world's richest economies.
Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May, who called the general election to strengthen her hand in the coming Brexit talks, claims she wants a society that works for everyone, albeit one that is not free of austerity nor social spending cuts.