There are genuine cases of hardship and deprivation in Scotland, the UK and many westernised countries. However, nothing at all like that experienced in other parts of the world.
Watching various social media arguments it as apparent that every ill and problem in the world, in the UK and Scotland is the joint responsibility of Westminster, London and the English Tories.
The venom which separatists spew out about poverty, starvation, deprivation, benefits caps and cuts is unstoppable. If you dare voice any opposition you are evil, equally guilty as the hated “Westmonster”. I have had one insane person tell me that “it is UK government policy to starve the working classes” how crazy is that? policy!
I have lost count of the number of #indyref exchanges that get derailed (I get a tad annoyed) because, when failing to win a specific point, the separatists trot out the “starving kids” ploy. There are no starving kids in the UK, not one. When challenged on this “food banks” are the standard separatist fall back, trying to shame me with the “horrendous” child poverty and starvation we experience!
It is quite difficult to argue against the “accusations” with the media, elements of the medical profession, charities and organisations like Trussell Trust , constantly telling us we are heading for third world status, that “food security” is worsening , poverty on the increase and accelerating. Like most other “businesses” (because that’s what many of theses organisations are these days) they are self-serving and need to be on message to attract funding and publicity. No bad news, no issue, no pricking consciences, problem fades and cash flow dries up.
I fully understand and appreciate there are real genuine cases of hardship, people do go hungry, live in bad housing, are untrained, uneducated, physically and mentally challenged and so on, but it is not this coalition governments fault. These issues have been with us forever, thankfully, getting less of a real problem as time goes by. Our Society does not have an absolute obligation to feed and house everyone who requests it regardless, it is entitled to ask questions, to try and change attitudes, encourage responsibility and request reasonable attempts to pursue self-help, find work or seek training
There are problems like this in the whole of the western world due to the global economic recession, Germany Belgium and America have had foodbanks for over twenty years. There is a case to be made that availability self perpetuates growth and demand, that some people are careless with debt and lifestyle and use them, far from being embarrassed, as welcome free easy relief. Of course there are genuine cases of short-term need, and in these circumstances the availability of this help is very welcome.
I personally believe the benefits cap is fair, why should anyone use our money to have a lifestyle better than the average working family? Should disabled people be assessed on a regular basis? Yes, that’s only fair to the system. Just because a single woman has a number of children, why is she entitled to a house with all mod cons, smart phone, Tv etc.? But this post is not about our welfare system which too often rewards sloth and removes personal responsibility, it’s about British poverty and how the separatists think an independent Scotland will easily solve it, at least for Scots.
Why is it that the measure of poverty in use is “relative” and open to a wide interpretation? Because it increases the numbers dramatically and shows the need for the organisations that both highlight and service the problems. No doubt they are staffed and supported by people and givers who have a genuine concern and feeling of responsibility for those less well off than themselves.
Relative poverty; fromhttp://www.poverty.org.uk/summary/social%20exclusion.shtml – a good reference point for study (no longer updated).
The reason we believe relative poverty is important is because we believe no one should live with “resources that are so seriously below those commanded by the average individual or family that they are, in effect, excluded from ordinary living patterns, customs and activities.” In other words, we believe that, in a rich country such as the UK, there should be certain minimum standards below which no one should fall. As society becomes richer, so norms change and the levels of income and resources that are considered to be adequate rises.
It’s not hard to see that poverty today is nothing like poverty twenty, forty or sixty years ago, that’s why it’s relative. The latest EU definition builds on Professor Peter Townsend’s above;
“People are said to be living in poverty if their income and resources are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living considered acceptable in the society in which they live. Because of their poverty they may experience multiple disadvantage through unemployment, low-income, poor housing, inadequate health care and barriers to lifelong learning, culture, sport and recreation. They are often excluded and marginalised from participating in activities (economic, social and cultural) that are the norm for other people and their access to fundamental rights may be restricted.”
From the same source Child poverty is defined as;
The current government definition is “children living in households with needs adjusted (‘equivalised’) incomes below 60 per cent of the median income.
Income is adjusted for different need (so-called ‘equivalisation’) on the principle that the same income will stretch further in a smaller family than a larger one”.
Median definition https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Median
Not simple or straightforward, individuals and families can drift in and out of these categories at various times and for various reasons, including personal mismanagement of personal finances and substance addictions. Parental addiction is a primary marker for chid poverty as well.
So, not a straightforward subject and one that annoys the heck out of me when uninformed separatist supporters throw the poverty/starvation Shame/blame game at the feet of the Union and it’s supporters (and me)! I will not feel any shame or guilt about saying utter rubbish! No one starves in the UK, we have too good a society to let that happen.
Often I will be shown a Daily Mirror or some such papers article that shows a man has died of starvation. Dreadful, heartbreaking when any one dies in difficult circumstances. However, when the circumstances are examined it ends up being a hugely complex situation including mental health issues, food phobias etc. Again, spun massively for effect, how disrespectful to the memory of that man and his family and how shameful of the press to use and capitalise on it for a cheap headline.
The UK has not increased poverty or starvation levels, don’t be afraid of telling those who wish to resort to emotional blackmail to help the real poor and starving in the third world if they are so concerned, we in the UK have effective support systems within the welfare state, ably supplemented by the excellent work by the food banks and other helping organisations.
Two things worthy of note:
We also have a bit of an obesity problem, Scotland has 26% adult obesity with child obesity close behind.
I am involved with (trying to support) a person in Falkirk. This person became homeless early 2014. They have experienced family breakdown, estrangement from spouse and children and court appearances, a very complex and very sad case exacerbated by, in my opinion, mental health problems.
No job and no likelihood of one, no possessions, no savings and at an age and with an outlook that mitigates against an improvement in their situation, a very difficult situation.
This person is now on DLA, has light, heat, food, a self contained roof over their head, a mobile phone, smokes, likes and has a drink or two – that is the society we have, caring, supportive and attempting to stop the horrors of real poverty and starvation, we should be proud of that.
In closing, I have seen “real” poverty in Africa, we are a million miles away from despair of that kind.
Steve Sayers Proud of the UK and it’s record and continuing work on reducing poverty.