Saturday, 4 October 2014

What it means to be poor in the UK

First, some facts from a major research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, which in turn is largely government funded. In other words this is official.

About 5.5 million adults go without essential clothing. 

About 2.5 million children live in homes that are damp.

Around 1.5 million children live in homes that cannot afford to heat their homes.

More than one in five adults have had to borrow in the last year to pay for day-to-day needs. 

Reading Alan Johnson’s autobiography, ‘About a Boy, which describes appalling poverty growing up in inner city London slums in the 50’s, it seems that very little has changed. The great leaps forward which began with the wholesale slum clearance schemes of the 60’s and a massive expansion in rented - council owned - property, meant that for many of our poorest, things began to improve. 

Then came Thatcher and (among many similar wheezes) the right to buy scheme where home ownership was a popular policy but it had a fatal flaw. The money raised should have been used to fund the building of further rental accommodation. This did not happen. 

The same greed-driven party then came up with the bedroom tax wheeze when they knew there were nowhere near enough smaller properties for people to downsize to. Result, a further attack on the poor and the needy by a  deeply nasty party. 

Gideot’s latest announcement to his smug, self-serving audience that he would freeze benefits for the poorest and extract a further £22 billion from the most vulnerable in our society while simultaneously rewarding the very rich with even more tax cuts. Compare and contrast with Scandinavian countries, where fair (and that means income) tax is higher but people accept it as part of a social contract. The vast majority of citizens in the region are happy to pay for essential public services. Norway and Sweden came out first and second respectively in a recent survey of the happiest places to live in the world. 
The UK came in at number 11. This signifies that in the UK there are still a lot of people comfortably off even if they are not downright loaded. However the gap between the very richest in our society and the poorest has widened considerably under this government. Sadly, New Labour (aka Tories with red ties) also cozied up to the mega-wealthy and did their bit to widen the gap. Keir Hardy, Nye Bevan et al would have been appalled. 

To be poor in the UK is difficult. Bragging claims that unemployment is going down made by smug millionaires is so much bullshit. Lots of desperate people are on zero hours contracts working every now and then and never knowing when they will next be used. Many work less than 10 hours a week yet they are not included in the unemployment figures. There are other similar wheezes to obfuscate the figures to the extent they stretch belief. As far as the nasties are concerned this is a result. Largely unchallenged by a supine opposition it is left to decent citizens to fund food banks and shelters. 

Time for a radical solution to our problems.

Tax the Rich.

Scrap Trident.

Make Corporations pay their share.

Those simple measures will more than pay off the deficit. Now why wouldn’t the tories do this?

Because it would upset 90% of their major backers - Russian Oligarchs, Financial Spivs and greedy bankers, not forgetting the arms industry........!


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