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#1 ckn

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 02:43 PM

We finally got around to watching A Christmas Carol today and the bit at the end of the second Spirit really stuck in my head after reading this article in the Observer on food banks earlier today.

 

'Spirit, are they yours?' Scrooge could say no more.

 

'They are Man's,' said the Spirit, looking down upon them. 'And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!' cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. 'Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse! And abide the end!'

 

'Have they no refuge or resource?' cried Scrooge.

 

'Are there no prisons?' said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. 'Are there no workhouses?'


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#2 WearyRhino

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 04:32 PM

Yeah, haven't we come a long way in 170 years?

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#3 Johnoco

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 04:45 PM

Yeah, haven't we come a long way in 170 years?

We have actually come a long way. It is still a disgrace that food banks etc are still even in existence but we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water because we are a long way advanced from those days (in the main)

#4 Trojan

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 04:59 PM

I read the article, I also read Duncan Smith slagging off the an organisation that runs food banks as "political" typical Tory loaded word, anyone who speaks against us is "political," the're not "political" of course.  Duncan-Smith disgusts me, he wouldn't even stay to listen to the debate of poverty, he walked out.  This government should be ashamed of itself.  They are insisting on getting the deficit down by cutting the benefits of the worse off in society and if anyone so much as raises an eyebrow the likes of IDS come down on them like f ton of bricks.


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#5 WearyRhino

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 05:59 PM

We have actually come a long way. It is still a disgrace that food banks etc are still even in existence but we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water because we are a long way advanced from those days (in the main)


Fundamentally, nothing has changed - the 'system' is still set up to benefit a few at the expense of many. Yes, there is an, increasingly eroded, welfare safety net which only paradoxically serves to maintain the status quo. The welfare state provides a dilemma for many on the left, whilst it ameliorates the worst excesses of capitalism it also helps legitimise and sustain it. Although attacks on it do go to show how ruthless and evil the ruling class are in defence of their system.

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#6 Wiltshire Rhino

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 06:04 PM

Our daughter gave my wife and I a Christmas card which said she had given us a Christmas hamper which she had donated to a Food Bank.

I think that was our best present.
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#7 Johnoco

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 12:54 AM

Fundamentally, nothing has changed - the 'system' is still set up to benefit a few at the expense of many. Yes, there is an, increasingly eroded, welfare safety net which only paradoxically serves to maintain the status quo. The welfare state provides a dilemma for many on the left, whilst it ameliorates the worst excesses of capitalism it also helps legitimise and sustain it. Although attacks on it do go to show how ruthless and evil the ruling class are in defence of their system.

Yes. But how many instances do we see of the likes of this; In Liverpool in 1842 39000 people lived in 7800 cellars (Edwin Chadwick).

 

Poor Law Commissioners report 1838; 

'In the centre of the street there is a gutter, into which the potato peelings, the refuse of vegetable and animal matter of all kinds, dirty water from the washing of clothes from all the houses are poured. And there they putrify...families live in the cellars and kitchens of these undrained houses, dark and extremely damp. In these houses, fever is always prevalent.'

 

Now seriously.....does anyone today...anyone..have to endure living conditions remotely like this? AND this was working people!!


Edited by Johnoco, 30 December 2013 - 12:55 AM.


#8 ckn

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 01:13 AM

Yes. But how many instances do we see of the likes of this; In Liverpool in 1842 39000 people lived in 7800 cellars (Edwin Chadwick).

 

Poor Law Commissioners report 1838; 

'In the centre of the street there is a gutter, into which the potato peelings, the reruse of vegetable and animal matter of all kinds, dirty water from the washing of clothes from all the houses are poured. And there they putrify...families live in the cellars and kitchens of these undrained houses, dark and extremely damp. In these houses, fever is always prevalent.'

 

Now seriously.....does anyone today...anyone..have to endure living conditions remotely like this? AND this was working people!!

I do agree with you on that and I'd go further to say that we're probably living in a fairly golden period of prosperity in the UK as a whole ranging from the 70s onwards.  We're one of the world's most prosperous nations with more wealth being earned here than almost anywhere else in the world.  We have one of the world's financial capitals, we have more millionaires than any other EU country, we have one of the lowest overall tax burdens of the major EU nations, we can afford to fund billions of pounds of nice-to-have infrastructure upgrades, yet, despite that, we still cannot feed our own people.

 

We could source and distribute food that would give families a basic sustenance level for about £100 per year per person given massive economies of scale.  That's £600-odd million a year yet we've paid more than that on consultancy for the HS2 railroad this year alone.  Just think, if we scrapped HS2 and diverted the money to providing EVERYONE in the UK with basic sustenance food then we'd probably still have a surplus for the next 25-30 years, cut it to those who really need it and we'd be able to give them a good level of food and probably have enough spare money to fund it to the next century or longer.  The 500,000 people referred to in the original link, even if it cost a vastly inflated £500 per person per year would only cost £250m to feed a year, I'm sure we can find a way to fund that out of the £549,900,000,000 that the central government has planned to spend in 2014, a fraction of a percent of total government spending to ensure the entire population is fed.  I'm not sure why anyone could really argue with that, I struggle to think what could be more important to a government than ensuring its most needy are given at least sustenance levels of food.

 

Just think, we wasted £10bn on the idiot ID card scheme, we could have fed our hungry poor for decades with that!


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#9 stimpo-and-kat

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 08:46 AM

I do agree with you on that and I'd go further to say that we're probably living in a fairly golden period of prosperity in the UK as a whole ranging from the 70s onwards. We're one of the world's most prosperous nations with more wealth being earned here than almost anywhere else in the world. We have one of the world's financial capitals, we have more millionaires than any other EU country, we have one of the lowest overall tax burdens of the major EU nations, we can afford to fund billions of pounds of nice-to-have infrastructure upgrades, yet, despite that, we still cannot feed our own people.

We could source and distribute food that would give families a basic sustenance level for about £100 per year per person given massive economies of scale. That's £600-odd million a year yet we've paid more than that on consultancy for the HS2 railroad this year alone. Just think, if we scrapped HS2 and diverted the money to providing EVERYONE in the UK with basic sustenance food then we'd probably still have a surplus for the next 25-30 years, cut it to those who really need it and we'd be able to give them a good level of food and probably have enough spare money to fund it to the next century or longer. The 500,000 people referred to in the original link, even if it cost a vastly inflated £500 per person per year would only cost £250m to feed a year, I'm sure we can find a way to fund that out of the £549,900,000,000 that the central government has planned to spend in 2014, a fraction of a percent of total government spending to ensure the entire population is fed. I'm not sure why anyone could really argue with that, I struggle to think what could be more important to a government than ensuring its most needy are given at least sustenance levels of food.

Just think, we wasted £10bn on the idiot ID card scheme, we could have fed our hungry poor for decades with that!


The ID scheme is a good point. However I dont think poverty is an issue that will ever be solved. From the rhetoric of Thatcherism, pushing an ideal of personal responsibility, 'get on your bike and find work'. IMO the welfare giveaways of new labour have created a generation of dependants, a culture of entitlement, a dependence on the state/food banks etc. Now there has been a return to Tory government and the end of something for nothing handouts these people who have become used to being looked after by government via systems such as tax credits have found themselves short.

The rhetoric of Thatcherism wont return but maybe such an eye opener would be effective

#10 Trojan

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 09:03 AM

The ID scheme is a good point. However I dont think poverty is an issue that will ever be solved. From the rhetoric of Thatcherism, pushing an ideal of personal responsibility, 'get on your bike and find work'. IMO the welfare giveaways of new labour have created a generation of dependants, a culture of entitlement, a dependence on the state/food banks etc. Now there has been a return to Tory government and the end of something for nothing handouts these people who have become used to being looked after by government via systems such as tax credits have found themselves short.

The rhetoric of Thatcherism wont return but maybe such an eye opener would be effective

The nasty party has obviously survived Cameron's attempt to cull it!


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#11 Bob8

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 09:25 AM

The ID scheme is a good point. However I dont think poverty is an issue that will ever be solved. From the rhetoric of Thatcherism, pushing an ideal of personal responsibility, 'get on your bike and find work'. IMO the welfare giveaways of new labour have created a generation of dependants, a culture of entitlement, a dependence on the state/food banks etc. Now there has been a return to Tory government and the end of something for nothing handouts these people who have become used to being looked after by government via systems such as tax credits have found themselves short.

The rhetoric of Thatcherism wont return but maybe such an eye opener would be effective

I used to do some volunteer work at something similar to a homeless shelter.  In many ways the rhetoric was extremely Thatcherite, the meals were very cheap.  However, you had to be able to pay the complete amount, you were not allowed to ask or borrow money from anyone at the club.  This meant if you came in with £1.95 and the meal was £2, you were back out until you came back with £2.  

 

The difference I would say in this viewpoint and most Thatcherites was why we were that harsh.  The view at the centre was that they would have to become many, many times harder, more imaginative and be prepared to do more that the rest of society, which was tragic and the way it was.  Politically, the people running the place were all lefties.  Many people attached to the Conservative party give the impression of thinking that they could just have got and job and it would have been easy.  

 

So, I agree to a great extent with what you say.  However, there is a vast amount of privilage and self-entitlement in this country, which is creating great inequality.  It is also hugely culturally entrenched.  


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#12 Derwent

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 10:02 AM

I have genuine sympathy for those who have to use food banks out of desperate necessity. However I am less inclined to sympathise with people like the woman I saw in the local shop near my mother-in-law's house in Newcastle who was telling all and sundry about how it was disgraceful that she could only survive by using food banks while simultaneously buying 100 Lambert & Butler, 2 bottles of vodka and a few scratch cards.

#13 stimpo-and-kat

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 10:21 AM

I have genuine sympathy for those who have to use food banks out of desperate necessity. However I am less inclined to sympathise with people like the woman I saw in the local shop near my mother-in-law's house in Newcastle who was telling all and sundry about how it was disgraceful that she could only survive by using food banks while simultaneously buying 100 Lambert & Butler, 2 bottles of vodka and a few scratch cards.


My point exactly. People use food banks yet spend their disposableincome on luxuries. If you live on a small budget then quit smoking, cut drinking, stop gambling and start to take some responsibility for your life.

Ive no issue with helping people get their lives in order via the welfare system but it should not be used as an alternative to ambition and self advancement.

As an example I used to work with someone who would take overtime as time in lieu rather than being paid as she would lose out on tax credits. Someone stuck in a cycle of dependancy and unambitious to escape it.

#14 Trojan

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:15 AM

My point exactly. People use food banks yet spend their disposableincome on luxuries. If you live on a small budget then quit smoking, cut drinking, stop gambling and start to take some responsibility for your life.

Ive no issue with helping people get their lives in order via the welfare system but it should not be used as an alternative to ambition and self advancement.

As an example I used to work with someone who would take overtime as time in lieu rather than being paid as she would lose out on tax credits. Someone stuck in a cycle of dependancy and unambitious to escape it.

An assertion that is palpably not true.  If you read the article, you can't just swan into a food bank and demand food, you have to have a voucher and proof that you are in genuine need.  And the increase in those using food banks in the last 3 years has been massive.   These people are not the lazy shirkers portrayed by Osbourn, these are people who are in work and can't make ends meet because they aren't earning enough, and their  fuel bills have gone through the roof, and their tax credits have been cut, they are literally starving.  Duncan-Smith talks a lot about making work pay as a justification for cutting benefits. Perhaps paying people a living wage would be a more effective way of achieving this aim.


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#15 ckn

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:17 AM

Yes, there are those like described above that abuse the system but there are genuine cases where people have nowhere near enough money to keep their houses, keep the power on and feed themselves at the same time.  Here's an example I saw the other day, a disabled man committed suicide after a physiotherapist from ATOS ruled on his mental health problems that he was fit for work.  Yet another thing that the government likes to pretend works flawlessly.  Then there's the bedroom tax debacle where the government forces cuts to people's benefits without the infrastructure necessary for those people to move into smaller houses.  Then there's the serious increase in sanctioned benefits claimants who then have no money or benefits, what are they supposed to do, sit out their "punishments" chewing the food stains on the carpets?

 

It's a massively dangerous thing following the lead of the media and government in pigeon-holing benefits claimants and food-bank users as scroungers.


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#16 ckn

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:28 AM

An assertion that is palpably not true.  If you read the article, you can't just swan into a food bank and demand food, you have to have a voucher and proof that you are in genuine need.  And the increase in those using food banks in the last 3 years has been massive.   These people are not the lazy shirkers portrayed by Osbourn, these are people who are in work and can't make ends meet because they aren't earning enough, and their  fuel bills have gone through the roof, and their tax credits have been cut, they are literally starving.  Duncan-Smith talks a lot about making work pay as a justification for cutting benefits. Perhaps paying people a living wage would be a more effective way of achieving this aim.

Here's the statistics given by the Trussell Trust on referrals from other bodies:

 

voucher-distribution-12-13.png

(Link in case the pic doesn't show)

 

By far the biggest claimant category is delays in payment of legitimate benefits, nearly 30%.  That's just over 100,000 people in Britain who have been given vouchers for emergency food aid because the government can't or won't pay people on time.  The next biggest class of claimants are people who are employed but their incomes are so low they have to get emergency food aid occasionally.  The latter category are particularly annoying when we won't raise the minimum wage rate but we're happy to cut the levels of taxation for the top tier of society, as said many times before I'm not against tax cuts in themselves but I do get annoyed when they're being cut when Cameron tells us we're all in this together in the austerity campaign.


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#17 stimpo-and-kat

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:32 AM

Yes, there are those like described above that abuse the system but there are genuine cases where people have nowhere near enough money to keep their houses, keep the power on and feed themselves at the same time. Here's an example I saw the other day, a disabled man committed suicide after a physiotherapist from ATOS ruled on his mental health problems that he was fit for work. Yet another thing that the government likes to pretend works flawlessly. Then there's the bedroom tax debacle where the government forces cuts to people's benefits without the infrastructure necessary for those people to move into smaller houses. Then there's the serious increase in sanctioned benefits claimants who then have no money or benefits, what are they supposed to do, sit out their "punishments" chewing the food stains on the carpets?

It's a massively dangerous thing following the lead of the media and government in pigeon-holing benefits claimants and food-bank users as scroungers.


The back to work scheme in principle is one I support. When I was out of work I was left to rot, signing on week after week for roughly 3 months before being sent on a 1 hour session on looking for work. So much more needs to be done by the job centre to help people back to work quicker and into sustainable jobs. I was applying for every job I was capable of however there were plenty who were doing the bare minimum.

Again the so called bedroom tax is something I agree with in principle. There are huge waiting lists for social housing however under occupancy is not a huge issue. More of an issue is the system of a house for life. There are those who are more than capable of moving into.ownership or the private sector but remain in social housing. I would be more in favour of periodic assesment of need for social housing and those no longer in need encouraged to move on. Social housing should be there for those in need of it but a life long right.

With back to work assessments and spare room subsidy there are obvious exceptions to the rule such as your example. There are others who use the press such as parents of soldiers subject to spare room subsidy with whom I have no sympathy.

#18 stimpo-and-kat

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:37 AM

Here's the statistics given by the Trussell Trust on referrals from other bodies:

voucher-distribution-12-13.png
(Link in case the pic doesn't show)

By far the biggest claimant category is delays in payment of legitimate benefits, nearly 30%. That's just over 100,000 people in Britain who have been given vouchers for emergency food aid because the government can't or won't pay people on time. The next biggest class of claimants are people who are employed but their incomes are so low they have to get emergency food aid occasionally. The latter category are particularly annoying when we won't raise the minimum wage rate but we're happy to cut the levels of taxation for the top tier of society, as said many times before I'm not against tax cuts in themselves but I do get annoyed when they're being cut when Cameron tells us we're all in this together in the austerity campaign.


The top rate was raised just before the election. Was done merely to play politics, didnt raise a penny more in revenue than the 45% rate now. Coalition has given roughly 25 million an £800 per year tax cut via raising tax allowances. That should be remembered as Nick Cleggs legacy.

#19 ckn

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:48 AM

The top rate was raised just before the election. Was done merely to play politics, didnt raise a penny more in revenue than the 45% rate now. Coalition has given roughly 25 million an £800 per year tax cut via raising tax allowances. That should be remembered as Nick Cleggs legacy.

Yes it did.  It raised a reasonable amount of money.  It didn't make too much in its last year as the banks deferred their bonus payments until 5th April when the tax cut came into effect.  Again, surely you can see the point that it's very hard to justify cutting taxes for the top 1% of society while forcing austerity on the country.

 

The tax allowance increase was a very good thing but surely it should be raised to the level of people earning minimum wage as a full-time job.


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#20 stimpo-and-kat

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:55 AM



The tax allowance increase was a very good thing but surely it should be raised to the level of people earning minimum wage as a full-time job.


I'd be happy with that




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