17 October 2013

“Poverty is an anomaly to rich people: it is very difficult to make out why people who want dinner do not ring the bell”- Walter BAGEHOT (1826-1877) in his 1858 essay The Waverley novels

As the Tory Libdem government tells us Britain is coming out of the pit of recession, the number of people using foodbanks is growing.  On the streets and in the homes there is still poverty and hunger.

The Trussell Trust has said  that in the six months April-September this year their foodbanks helped 355 985 people. In the whole of 2012/13  they helped fewer, that is 346 992.  Cameron’s big society is here, though not as he saw it, I expect, as the Trust says it is “launching two to three new foodbanks every week”.

The Trussell Trust, which feeds people but also helps them to break out of poverty rather than be dependent on a foodbank, is the largest but not the only foodbank organisation in Britain.

The poverty of the poor is not an accident, as Ellen Wilkinson wrote at the beginning of The town that was murdered, her account of Jarrow in the 1930s.  The causes of present food poverty in Britain include the actions of government and councils: changes to benefits; delays in paying benefits; the new charges on the poor like the bedroom tax and, as in Cornwall, requiring the very poor to pay council tax; pay freezes; and above-inflation rises in food and domestic fuel.

The definitive signal that we have failed the poor is in the Red Cross launch of an emergency food aid plan for Britain’s hungry.

There is a report of this national humiliation in the Independent for 11 October 2013.

The Tories are in denial; the Liberal Democrats are  struck dumb by this immiseration which their policies have brought about. Labour, who saw a rise in food banks when they were in office, have produced no convincing solution to the crisis in the cost of living. Alas, it looks as though the poor will be with us for a while yet.

To round off this unhappy news you might like to read:
Too young to fail from  Save the children

State of the nation 2013 (October 2013) from the Social mobility and child poverty commission

Nearly half of southwest renters living in bad housing (October 2013) from Shelter

Andrew Wallis, a Cornwall unitary councillor, has a very useful post about the data on the impact of the welfare changes in Cornwall here.

Previous posts
A tale of two Cornwalls: potholes and foodbanks 10 August 2013

Foodbanks and council tax in Cornwall 4 July 2013

Taxing the poor in Cornwall 29 March 2013