Poverty is now a way of life for many again

The scourge of modern day poverty in Britain

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Tories have for a long time, under various administrations, intended to bring the country back to Victorian values; to the Victorian era more like. And to all intents and purposes they are succeeding.

We have today an epidemic in the Britain, a scourge in our communities, and this epidemic and scourge is called poverty. Taboo, however, does make it difficult for sufferers to admit that this epidemic affects them. Millions are being condemned by a food poverty that has reached the level of a ‘health emergency’ while Government policy merely fans the flames of this national scandal. At least 1.3 million people, adults and children, in Britain live in poverty and this is a national disgrace for a nation that is rated as the 11th richest country in the world. A country with a GDP of $2,375 trillion.

The poverty that we see today differs somewhat from poverty from the past. We may not see the squalor and hardship as yet that was seen prior to the creation of the welfare state but the effects of poverty still hit extremely hard. One definition of poverty is: “People are said to be living in poverty if their income and resources are inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living acceptable in the society in which they live.”

Poverty has a horrendous effect in the UK but this is exasperated by a Government that has no interest in combating poverty, in fact, it is near fatal to appear poor as it makes the Government want to kick you.

Today’s Government has a mantra of ‘making work pay’. They tell a story of shirkers vs. skivers, a narrative that informs us that people living in poverty do so due to them being feckless, workshy individuals languishing in the bed all day watching repeats of the Jeremy Kyle show. But the rhetoric doesn’t match the stats.

In 2011/12 there was 1.3 million people living in poverty in the UK and over half of these people were in employment. How in the name of the Big Man above did we end up in a situation where so many people in our fantastically rich country are living in poverty while in employment?

One of the reasons is Income Inequalities. The UK’s Gina coefficient, a method to measure income inequalities between nations, is now higher than at any time in thirty years.

This is reinforced by data showing that, in the last decade, the poorest 10% of our nation have seen a fall in their ‘real income’ after deducting housing costs which is in sharp contrast to all other sections of our population.

In layman’s terms, it means that after adjusting for inflation, the poorest 10% of the UK have had less income that they did 10 years ago while everyone else has seen a rise in their income.

What makes matters worse is the Government’s attack of the welfare state which is removing the protection that people had from the blight of poverty. Their attacks, under the auspices of reforms, has linked to the rise in the use of foodbanks and homelessness. Their system of unwarranted and senseless sanctions has literally take food from the tables of our children which an extra 600,000 children being thrown into absolute poverty by Governmental policy.

So what do the Conservatives do when they are confronted by the facts? Kent Council commissioned an official report which concluded that the rise in foodbanks and a rise of homelessness being linked to the Government’s welfare reforms. After looking at all the evidence the report concludes that these rises were due to ‘welfare reform as no other alternative explanatory factor is yet apparent’.

Did the ruling Conservatives at Kent council at Kent Council act on this report? No, they attempted to suppress this report as they did not like the report’s conclusion.

So we live in an unequal country where the poorest become poorer and the wealthy become richer. But there is an alternative. There is a better way so that we can have a democratic nation based on equality and fairness which I will write about in future post.

It has to be said, however, that there is poverty and then there is poverty. And while this may sound a little too cryptic I will try to explain.

What is perceived by many today as “poverty” is a reduction of what they have been used to and the problem is that many, I am afraid to say, are not prepared to forgo some things that are not necessities and needs but only wants. Many also are unable to manage the money that they have and spend it unwisely.

Do you really have to have cable TV (pay for) or TV at all? Do you have to have take out meals almost every day of the week? And the list of questions could go on and on. Fact is that that is exactly, I am afraid to say, the way some of the poor behave.

I am not trying to lessen the fact that, according to the way the index is used, people are poor and some are even poorer than that, but there are times when people also must blame some of their own actions for the fact that they are short of money and not try to shift the blame onto others, onto circumstances and especially the government, even though the latter has a great deal to answer for.

© 2015