Great Britain: Poverty in the uk.

I had a good read of this story today. For those that don’t know how to click on a link it’s basically about how there’s been a massive increase in the use of food banks in the UK brought on by the impact of benefit cuts and other recession-tastic joys.

There are two main points of interest for me which I’d like to draw your attention to. Firstly this graphic from the BBC article:


Those are some pretty shocking rises. In the UK, the Trussell Trust is the largest food bank provider. There are no doubt smaller organisations as well as kind members of the public who might help their neighbours. What I’m basically saying is that you should look at this bar chart and probably double the numbers on it. The individuals using the food banks are no doubt supporting family members with the items they pick up so hell – double those figures again.

On to my second point. According to the Trussell Trust Website, 13 million people live below the poverty line in the UK. That’s roughly 20% of the UK according to their figures which may be based on some evidence considering their existence is based on supplying food to poor people. Moreover, In 2013-14 foodbanks fed 913,138 people nationwide. Of those helped, 330,205 were children (source).

“But they’re all scroungers!” the right wing Daily Mail readers cry. “I bet they’re just scavenging stuff but still buying new televisions and brand new clothes for Christmas” (heaven forbid the poor want the same luxuries the other classes can afford). In all honesty it was a thought that passed through my critical mind while I read the article. Could I, a relatively well off citizen of the UK get a food parcel? It would certainly help me over the Christmas period and allow me to buy more hand carved crisps from Waitrose.

Well the simple answer is no, I and you dear Horatio, cannot. According to the BBC:

  • To qualify for a food parcel [from the Trussell Trust], recipients must have been issued with a voucher by front-line agencies such as social services, the police or doctors.


Hmm. People can’t be scrounging it without official evidence of their poverty. That means that they probably, actually need it.  So how does this all tie in with the whole – economy getting better thing? Surely if the economy is getting stronger and there are more people in work then up to 20% of the population should not be relying on food banks?  What the hell is going on then?

To be brutally honest I have no idea. But it’s a situation that appears to be getting worse not better. Factor in the pressures on the NHS and the dwindling amount of support the welfare state is able to provide and your looking at a worsening situation. Christ even local governments are still getting mauled.

I have no idea what the Conservative economic strategy is but right now things are looking pretty dire and making more jobs in call centres at 14,000 a year is not the way to help people. People are going hungry, the numbers in relative poverty appears to be increasing; this is not something that is particularly great about Great Britain.

There are still great Britons living in this country. Like those who help out for the Trussell Trust and many other organisations like it and it is my belief that it is our individual responsibility to try and help those less fortunate than us. Nevertheless the fate of this country is down to our choice of government and it will be their decisions that will shape our futures.



4 Comments Add yours

  1. defenderland says:

    It’s that great contradiction I’d come to know all too well in the US: an on-paper strong economy, but the majority of people are poor, scrounging, and generally living lives of quiet desperation.

    1. syndathim says:

      Does the US popular media demonize the Poor for societies ill’s? In the UK, The Sun and The Daily Mail are both hugely popular and massively biased into portraying the poor as sub human scum who are out for themselves with a few exceptions.

      More worrying is that people would rather bemoan those of their own social rank them ever stand up to the people who basically screwed the economy in the first place.

      1. defenderland says:

        Yeah I’d say it’s about the same. Most people still believe in Horatio Alger-type stories where America is the ‘land of opportunity’ and if you try hard enough you can be super rich too. So the talking heads on Fox News and company propose that taxes on the rich be cut while insisting that people who make so little to not owe any income tax should be taxed, cuts are the only way to balance the budget (though never military cuts!), that Wall Street protestors should be out looking for work instead of protesting, etc. And that’s only when they even bother to talk about the economy, because you’ve got national security, gay marriage, abortion, etc. to make sure class issues are always on the back burner at best. And you wouldn’t want to agree with some hippie apostate fetus-murderer on anything, so if he thinks food stamps are good they’re probably bad. And you don’t learn or even talk about other countries outside of a historical context, so there’s not even a conception of how things could possibly be done differently. After all everyone believes that America is the greatest country in the world unless you’re some kind of terrorist. And besides no one you know has the power to change anything because running for office requires boatloads of money and trying to change things by taking to the streets means a lung-full of tear gas, a face full of pavement, and a few nights in jail if you’re lucky. One thing just runs into the other, and it is all connected to the point that I really can’t see any hope for improvement.

  2. syndathim says:

    Wow – I can see why you live in Japan now!

    As a kid growing up in Britain I grew up with films from the late 80s and early 90s which all came from America; and truth be told I lapped them up. Everything about America appear amazing to a kid growing up in a boring village in Devon. Big, bold and fun. Always full of adventure (and with plenty of High-Tech Japanese products on show).

    But then I grew up and realised that America was just another (admittedly very powerful) country with flaws and benefits like any other. Those sun drenched images in films were cherry picked and there were plenty of rubbish things that happened in the US. Instead, I came to gradually appreciate England for it’s qualities and quirks. I even wanted to try and help improve my local community and volunteered for Police and the Council. I was brimming with hope!

    Fast forward to the current day and I just want to survive. That’s truly what it feels like at times. If I want to improve the lives of others (even just a little bit) I know that I can only really do it through my writing. Well that’s the hope anyway!

    I think that’s why I want to go to Japan. To experience a culture which I hope is alien and interesting – hopefully learning a few new things along the way.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s