The other night I was invited over to dinner by my parents, who – as they often do – treated this as their “dine out” night (they’re both retired and can afford to treat themselves to a meal out each week) and ordered a vegetarian curryfest from their favourite Indian takeaway.
As they often do, they ordered lavishly – and the leftovers were packed up to go home with me. I was walking down the hill to the bus stop, with the fragrant bag in my hand, when I noticed a man sitting against the wall with a blanket wrapped round him, having a smoke. Now, I like curry, but generally don’t eat it two nights running: and the food in the bag had never been taken out of the takeaway cartons. It was safe enough to share. So I asked the man if he’d like a curry, and when he said yes, handed him the bag, and went on my way. It wasn’t exactly generous of me (though I hope he enjoyed it) and was classically helpful/unhelpful: a good meal for a night for one homeless person, isn’t resolving the problem of people going to bed hungry.
On 10th December last year, I wrote a post entitled How Not To Help Foodbanks, in which I discussed why the need for foodbanks was rising and quoted Jason Kuznicki:
Do you want to give food? Add up its retail price. Take that money out of your wallet. Flush 90% of it down the toilet. Send the food bank the rest. You’re still helping more than if you gave the food.
Everyone dies. Nothing’s sure but death and taxes.
In general, over decades of the NHS and welfare support and help for disabled people, people have been living longer. Since the first Coalition government spending review, cuts on spending have targeted the poor and disabled.
The DWP’s own figures say:
The prevalence of disability rises with age. Around 6 per cent of children are disabled, compared to 16 per cent of working age adults* and 45 per cent of adults over State Pension age in Great Britain.
In 2008/09, 16% of pensioner households were living in poverty.
Esther McVey, the minister for disabled people, told the Mail on Sunday in March this year that in her view many of the people receiving disability didn’t really need it:
“Only three per cent of people are born with a disability, the rest acquire it through accident or illness, but people come out of it. Thanks to medical advances, bodies heal.”
Mortality rates have been falling steadily for years. There was a blip upwards in 2003, but it was followed by a blip downwards in 2004 – no overall change in the general trend downwards. Since the beginning of 2012, mortality among older people has been rising steadily, and has continued to rise in 2013.
[Note: The government have since decided to ensure no further evidence is published that could evidence a general trend upward by abolishing the Public Health England reports.]
The Scottish government has appointed four well-off men to advise on poverty issues:
The members of the new expert group are: Darra Singh, a former chief executive of Jobcentre Plus now working for Ernst & Young; Martyn Evans, chief executive of the Carnegie Trust and former head of Citizens Advice Scotland; Douglas Griffin, a former finance director at NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde; and Mike Brewer, a professor of economics at the University of Essex and a research fellow with the respected Institute of Fiscal Studies.
The four, who are expected to make an initial report to ministers by May, will advise on a “fairer welfare system” outside the union.
It is, after all, not the Scottish Government’s fault that Iain Duncan Smith has succeeded in associating his mantra on “fairness” with the reality of making the poor, the sick, the disabled, and the unemployed so much worse off than they need to be.