I know it is the season to be jelly, and I will, but this has been bubbling inside me for a while now, and as said season approaches at speed it seems apropos, in a way, to talk about this now. There is little that I can forgive a wealthy western society such as ours when it fails to achieve a utopian state of brotherhood and humanity. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. Imagine no greed or hunger.
This season of jellyness will see The British Red Cross hand out food parcels for the first time since 1945. Now, Cameron and Osbourne, I say it loud and clear – THAT IS DISGRACEFUL.
As they crow about a parmesan sliver of growth in an unequal economy, the use of and establishment of, food banks in the UK is at an all-time high.
Figures from the Trussel Trust show that there has been a 300% increase in the number of people receiving three days emergency food during the last year. At the root of it, changes in the benefit system such as The Bedroom Tax, 1% cap on benefit increases and 10% cut in council tax support.
Reductions in public spending and benefit changes have meant that families with children have been losing an average of £41.07 per week since 2010, with single parents losing almost 8% of their income.
This brings me to the nub of the disgraceful situation we find ourselves in. We are, by any standards, a wealthy and free society. Yet today, we see child poverty on the increase. This is unforgiveable in such a society as ours.
There are 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK today – 27% of all children. Some concentrations of such poverty in Parliamentary constituencies are so high they beggar belief;
Manchester Central 47%
Birmingham, Ladywood 42%
Liverpool, Riverside 42%
Bethnal Green and Bow 42%
These are just a few. The top 8 wards of the top 20 are all above 40% and the rest above 35%.
Child poverty can, theoretically, never be eradicated due to other social factors that will always have an impact upon a family income – factors that are not policy driven.
However, policy can do so much with the right intent and framework to address that level of poverty that does fall within a Government’s sphere of influence.
Child poverty fell dramatically between 1998/99 – 2011 when the figure was reduced by 1.1 million. Perhaps some slight socialist leaning at the time might have had an influence.
The current forecast is that child poverty will increase by 600,000 by 2015 and the upward trend will take the figure to 4.7 million by 2020 – a 32% increase in 7 years.
What can we do ? We can all give generously to our local foodbank. We can volunteer to man them and help support the families who need the emergency help. We can organise local “Drop Points” for food to be donated. In short, we can throw these poor people, a lifebelt that keeps them afloat. It is up to policy makers to keep them out of the water.
So, whilst Cameron lords it in South Africa, honoring a far greater man than he will ever be, perhaps he should reflect upon some choice words ….
” ….Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings……. ” – Nelson Mandela
(See also cpag.org.uk