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No escape from the pain?

IT continues to be a slow road to recovery after the global economic crisis of 2008.

The financial pain has been felt by thousands of Scots, with jobs lost, household budgets squeezed and a drop in real ­earnings of £1600 a year since 2010.

The poorest have been hit hardest. Figures published last week show the spiralling demand for food banks, with a fivefold jump in the number of Scots needing food parcels in just a year. Those on the breadline with no financial cushion are being pushed to the brink. Now a new report has again challenged any notion that we are "all in this together".

The Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute says the Bank of England's quantitative easing (QE) programme has boosted the value of financial assets by £600 billion in five years. The institute says this means the richest few have enjoyed an increase in wealth of around £300,000 each in that time, while others feed their children thanks to the generosity of strangers.

There are signs of recovery: last week, it emerged average weekly pay has caught up with inflation after six years. More are in work, and economic activity and business confidence are back to pre-recession levels, according to the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

Yet economists say with the recovery taking longer than after the Great Depression of the 1930s, it will be years before the impact is felt by ordinary households.

The pain of the recession has not been equal. The recovery's benefits must now be shared if it is to mean anything. There is a real danger of low wages, zero-hours contracts and welfare cuts becoming entrenched.

But as long as we have a UK Government pandering to the wealthy and punishing the poor - and an opposition Labour Party committed to the welfare squeeze - it is hard to see a way out.

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