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
8 thoughts on “The Season’s Disgrace (I’ll get jelly later…. )”
Child poverty, as with literacy and other classic statistics are a sad indicator of society. Similarly one should look at the other end of the scale at older vulnerable people too, living alone, cold because they can’t afford heating bills, unable or disinterested or can’t afford to eat well. The gap grows ever bigger in affluent western societies.
You are so right. I can’t believe how we are currently throwing vulnerable people “to the wolves”. The gap between rich and poor in the UK is becoming visibly apparent everyday and the regional divide is so obvious. Perhaps the LIbDems have put some sort of brake on what the Tories would have really done. The thought scares me.
How do I feel about this? Something I have been banging on about for years to the point where I’m almost bored. Rowntree, Trussel, War on Want etc. etc. I have never been able to whip up any kind of enthusiasm or anger or any kind of truly humanitarian response. Have we become immune I wonder. Is it because we don’t see pot bellied children scavenging in rotting heaps of refuse that we do not believe or understand that IT IS HAPPENING HERE and in ALL the financially wealthy countries of the world.
I do not believe giving is the definitive answer although sharing what we have will help for now. In the long term we must change our attitudes – us, all of us. In spirit, in food to sustain us, in hope and humanity, poverty diminishes us all.
Thank you for your powerful reminder.
Thanks, RR. I don’t know how to get people to take this seriously either. At least Labour made an effort. I think it’s important that during campaigning for the next election we remind people of things like this and we shouldn’t let politicians get away with sweeping it under the carpet. Like you, I just don’t see how we can let this grow any further.
Are we immune ? Probably, yes.
At a recent photography awards dinner Don McCullin told aspiring photographers to stop aiming to cover wars but to cover what is happening in Britain instead. Someone, he said, should record what is going on. Another tool, I hope, to raising this scandalous issue.
Al, well said – and it’s just as obscene here in the good ol’ US of A. Pix of all these pusillanimous gits are a sad reminder of how cold and dead they all are inside. continue…
Thank you, Tony. Sometimes I just don’t know how they hold their heads up.
Well put. We can also vote.
Hi Gill, yes we can….. blogging on the election campaign will start in good time. 🙂