Saturday, 30 March 2013

soup any one?

The above picture is a poignant reminder of hard times gone by, specifically the Great Depression when the line for the soup kitchen was long. The Salvation Army recently reported a huge increase in demand on their services for those in most need of basic essentials. The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken out against some Government welfare cuts stating that the cuts are increasing the number of those entering poverty and will have the most detrimental effect on children in that grouping.

I know of a small trust that gives out cash, up to £50-00 for those in need. That £50-00 has made a huge difference to many people who find them selves with out any means. The trust has limited resources. It has to maintain a level of capital so that it can continue as it was always intended to do so. 

The emergency money is paid out at the request of professionals who have no other resources to offer to an individual or family. The trust requires no receipt and works on knowing and trusting those who call on them. This is a rare and special thing and I hope it might continue to be able to make a difference long into the future though organisations such as this and the Salvation Army, were intended to ease the load for the few in dire need and not to become the front line in the struggle to help those whose dire need is caused directly by the banking sector and government policy.

The need for food hand outs through out the UK is increasing on a daily basis. In a small town like Colchester Chairman of trustees at Colchester Food Bank, the Rev Andrew Fordyce, predicts the continuing recession and looming changes to the benefits system in April will result in hundreds more people in the town struggling to put dinner on the table.
Last year, the charity handed out 16 tonnes of food, feeding around 1,500 adults and 600 children. But, it is predicted in 2013 in excess of 20 tonnes will be needed. This is not an isolated problem. Food banks with similar projected needs are forming all over the UK.

Food stamps are to be issued in Britain next week to tens of thousands of vulnerable people as part of benefits shake-up. Vouchers will be redeemable for food, nappies and other essentials.

I don't know if it is still the case but a while ago, when a refugee / asylum seeker in the UK was awaiting assessment, the living allowance awarded was £22 per week. The award, if you can call it such, was given in the form of coupons. Here's the Kafka bit. The coupons could only be spent at Sainsburys, not a store such Liddles or Asda where, it is obvious to any one that more goods could be purchased than at Sainsburys, what ever that company might say.

The so called bedroom tax is regarded by many as some thing that might have had it's inception based on common sense reasoning but got dreadfully mauled by those less gifted than the mandarin responsible for the idea. The chaotic policy means those on the left and right of the centre ground have the gravest mis-givings about the idea in practice. I know old school Tories who are dismayed by the machinations of Cameron and his gang and they are very concerned by the lack of fairness in so much of ConDem policy around welfare.

There are those who see the policy as justice for the "welfare scroungers" but the evidence shows that, if implemented as it stands, the so called bedroom tax will affect thousands of people adversely disrupting their lives and limiting their quality of life massively. Like the disgrace that is ATOS, the disability assessment police, the bedroom tax reflects very badly on the ConDems whose concept of a "big society" seems to me to be the shabbiest of things.

I say to those becoming genuinely concerned for the first time, what did you expect? This is The New Reality and it's been crap for some time.
 Mean while there are things that can be done though I understand it is difficult to see a way beyond the current malaise if, for example, you have spent your life dedicated to the service of others. I know morale in the NHS is at an all time low and we are not looking after any of the people we depend on most. 
We undervalue the people most important to our continued prosperity and welfare. I am talking about the folk who provide essential services and what happens when you decimate the numbers of police, emergency services and social workers.

On top of government cuts, u turns and confusion we have to try to get to grips with some of the strangest logic from the same stable. There are many examples of dodgy government thinking that are quite shocking to me. It bothers me immensely that the government has decided to remove the requirement for "people workers" to have Criminal record checks and for there to be 30% checks instead. For a start the government receives £150 for each CRB clearance provided. Nice earner! For some workers who worked in several settings a separate certificate was required for each setting. I always thought one current certificate should be sufficient but who decided to drop the whole practice at a time like this when the need for the protection of vulnerable people is so obviously necessary? 

In this bizarre New Reality if you work with and for people, it might seem that no one in charge wants you to the job you trained for but, they do want you to do your best to meet the new and ever changing criteria. This is mostly about form filling and killing your body and mind for no good purpose while you watch the service you were proud of reduced to a holding operation, at best. 

The New Reality dictates that young people must provide for their own pension and general social security at a time when the value of a pension paid for by their parents is diminishing every day. The likelihood of a meaningful entitlement to a state pension in the distant future seems highly improbable. The New Reality is that we have learnt that we will not get back what we pay in and that there will be a new underclass for whom there will be little or no state support.

This is the country where child poverty is on the rise, where low wages and a reduction in decent working conditions will be normal, the Lords of Capital will consolidate their holdings and the bonus culture will continue with little control. So much of what we were once proud of, here in the UK, is crumbling and will continue to do so until we get some fresh ideas and a new improved ethos in every part of UK governance.

The plan to dismantle and privatise the NHS, and the welfare state was planned years ago by the Conservative Party, their chums and their business partners, long before the General Election. Three generations have been born into the finest of Labour’s creations, and are so now familiar with it that they have come to believe it is an intrinsic part of life in Britain, so that to imagine life without it seems surreal. Basically, complacency has set in. Voters believed Cameron’s lies, didn’t listen to them as apathy reigned, or if they did they had lost all faith in an impotent voting system, and the supposed democratic system which so many fought to preserve.

We have seen this government spend wastefully and borrow while they condemn the very principle. They are still blaming the last government for their own poor performance. The economy is flat lining as many predicted it would. The ConDem assertion that we are on the right path is a fallacy at best and at worst, a lie to keep us hard at it. The message to the battered British public is - Be thankful you have work and get on with it no matter what we demand of you. 

This government promised that no one who worked would be worse off than those not employed. This is a blatant lie. A young couple I know with one young child, would be better off by £600 per month if they split up and the mother claimed all of the benefit she would be entitled to. The father works full time for a very low wage. Big Society, family values?

You might not agree with every thing or indeed, any thing I have to say on the subject, but who believes the ConDem way forward is the right way? Who believes that new welfare policy is fair and will help lead us to a better place as a civic society? Who believes that a government whose economic policies fly in the face of expert opinion in industry as well as the public sector, can effectively change the predicament we are all in? Who believes any of their employment and growth statistics? 

Only weeks before the budget they were running around stopping Whitehall departments from spending parts of their budget and urging heads of departments to defer spending to the next financial period / year in order to fudge the figures in support of the Chancellor's statements. It is similar to what the banks did when they knew they were deep in the proverbial. Why did they do this? Because they could and still can, with impunity.

We let them do this and get away with it but for how long? Will you participate in the struggle to combat the ConDem culture? Are you involved with local campaigns or perhaps you participate on the 38 Degrees lobbying and petitioning website? There are things that can be done and they must be done soon. We have to send a message to Cameron and his gang that cannot be ignored. People are suffering and if we do nothing I feel sure that our shame will last for generations.



Anonymous said...

There are millions people scrounging though and new cuts will sort them out. Won't it? People moan a lot but we have to make sacrifices.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how the greatest sacrifices are being made by those with the least. If in any doubt maybe you should listen to the church leaders. At least some people are speaking out against the cuts now. All in this together? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

There are not millions of people scrounging. This is pure tabloid lies. There are thousands who work who will be much poorer with the new cuts. What about the mother of the soldier serving in Afghanistan who keeps his room for when his army days are over? What about the family with an autistic son who cannot sleep in a room with others. Both families will suffer due to an out of touch policy from out of touch politicians.
Its very sad to see such anti people statements on Edgar's blog.


Anonymous said...

ian Duncan Smith says he can live on £52 a week. I'll bet he spends more than that on snacks and worse he'll never know what it's like.
Out of touch and hard and cold.

Sam Goodley ( By myself I love it)

Anonymous said...

Been a bit low key and quiet so I thought Id leave a comment. This government is the coldest for years a bit like the winter we are getting.
These cuts will have a devastating effect on millions and most in the end. There is no escaping turning our backs on the poorest and vulnerable and we will all suffer if we let it happen.
We are losing respect in Europe and elsewhere.
Looking after number one and the rich and privileged will cost more than money.
ps Rob teams looks well good and making nice progress or am I wrong?

Anonymous said...

Yes...38 Degrees CAN make a difference. The results are out there.

Now the Tanzanian government are going to remove people from their homeland so they can bus in tourists to hunt lions.

Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.

Frank Zappa

Brian J. C. Upton said...

Excellent , for once i can fully agree with you, however " standing outside looking in " will not achive anything ( with all due respect ) ever considered standing for parliment as a " independet " I FOR ONE WOULD GIVE YOU MY VOTE !