Hard Times

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‘If you get on a jubilee train from Westminster, for every stop that you travel east, life expectancy in the capital falls by a single year. By the time you’re out in East London you’ve got nearly a decades difference in life expectancy. This is something that we should have outgrown by the end of the Victorian period. The gap between the rich and the poor is now greater than it was when Charles Dickens was writing ‘Hard Times’. After twenty five years of a Neo-Liberal economy this is where we’ve got to’

John Rees (A People’s History of London)

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England has one of the top ten largest economies in the world and yet almost a third of children in London are living below the poverty line. Three and half million children are growing up in poverty in Britain, and 1.6 million are facing severe poverty. More than half of families in poverty are cutting back on food, almost a third have nothing left to cut back on and a quarter say they some times skip meals in order to feed their children (Save The Children). Children going without a hot meal, the right shoes or a decent winter coat for school, whilst BBC Breakfast discusses the decrease in Winter coat and cardigan sales, attributing this decrease ‘Pravda’ style to global warming.

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Wages remaining stagnant with rising housing costs and zero hour contracts are contributing to this child poverty. Add to that the unexpected curve ball of sudden illness and you have a lot of households struggling to remain on the poverty line, let alone above it. One would think that the ‘cradle to the grave’ welfare system we have all paid into would lessen the worst effects of suddenly falling ill. But, after years of paying into the welfare state, there is a feeling for some people that the government isn’t doing nearly enough for those who have now fallen on hard times. In the words of one disabled claimant with a family,

“Children in your own backyard should come above everyone else. If my disability benefits get cut even further I don’t know what I’m going to do, because it’s either clothe your kids and they go without food or feed your kids and they go without clothing, which one are you going to do?”.

Reverend Bruce Thompson Methodist Church Lincoln District Chair had this to say,”The church mandate is not to neglect our brothers and sisters around us but to feed them”. Lucy Rigby, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Lincoln had this to say, ‘when tax credits were cut back, all of a sudden people found that though both of them were working, they were still struggling. Until the minimum wage some are being paid becomes a living wage, we won’t see an improvement in this problem’. The living wage, essentially making sure that people are paid an honest amount for the work that they do. I would have included something Lincoln’s MP Karl McCartney had to say on the subject, but apparently he doesn’t have much time for this sort of conversation.

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