Tag Archives: poverty

Rashford strikes again – belittling ignorant Tory MP over ‘feeding children’ tweet

Marcus Rashford: he is campaigning to end food poverty and the Tory government has said it will listen to his recommendations. But one Tory MP seems to be shooting wild.

Footballer and food poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford scored against Kevin Hollinrake after the Tory MP shot his mouth off about parental responsibility to feed children.

Hollinrake responded to a tweet from a member of the public asking why it was necessary for Marcus Rashford to make a stand for hungry children in society.

This person asked: Isn’t that the job of our MPs?

Hollinrake responded: “Where they can, it’s a parents job to feed their children.”

But Rashford had noticed the exchange and responded to it – politely, but firmly:

“I would urge you to talk to families before tweeting. To this day I haven’t met one parent who hasn’t wanted or felt the responsibility to feed their children…”

To This Writer’s way of thinking, he was too easy on the Tory twit.

The point is that, in many cases, it is Tory policy that has made it impossible for parents to feed their children; they have cut real-terms wages and benefits to the point where it is impossible to afford the rent, other bills, and food as well.

Hollinrake should have known that, but chose to express his ignorance instead.

The amazing thing is that the people of Thirsk and Malton thought he was fit to represent them.

But from now on – at least – he is a marked man.

Source: Marcus Rashford slams Tory MP for ‘feeding children’ tweet – Mirror Online

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Covid class war: Tories are forcing food poverty through the roof as poor people face risk of poisoning

Tory legacy: attendance at food banks has doubled due to the Conservatives’ handling of Covid-19.

How is Fat Boris Johnson going to justify his silly campaign to make people eat more healthily when so many of us are getting money from food banks, or buying the cheapest (and therefore least healthy) available because we can’t afford anything else?

A new report by the Food Standards Agency has revealed that the Covid-19 crisis – and the Conservative government’s decisions relating to it – have caused a huge increase in referrals to food banks.

Because the Tories couldn’t be bothered to ensure the financial security of the population at large, one-tenth of the UK’s poorest people are now using foodbanks, with huge numbers of people skipping meals.

Malnutrition and obesity are rife as people have been forced to cut out healthy foods in favour of “basic sustenance” diets.

People actually voted to inflict this on their fellow UK citizens and their children.

The FSA’s research tells us that the number of people in food insecurity in the UK – experiencing hunger, unable to secure food of sufficient quality and quantity to enable good health and social participation, and cutting down on food because of a lack of money – has doubled due to the Covid crisis. And it was high in the first place.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, around 16 per cent of adults experienced it – around 7.8 million people.

The government that the people elected last December has used the Covid crisis to double this figure. Now, around 15.6 million adults are in food insecurity.

So when the FSA says 10 per cent of respondents visited a food bank in June, this represents more than 1.5 million people.

And we know food banks have been struggling to find stock in the face of this demand, at a time when everybody has lost money apart from the super-rich (most of whom couldn’t care less about you).

The survey found that 23 per cent of people aged 16-24 had been forced to access food through a charity or food bank – but no figures were provided to show how many people that figure represents.

The only other group experiencing as much food insecurity was households with a child.

So the Tories have ensured that poor children are starving – even after having been knocked back in their plan to deny free school meals to poor kids during the holidays by footballer Marcus Rashford’s high-profile shaming.

If you are still in doubt that these findings are evidence of a Tory war against the poor, consider this, from the Guardian article about the FSA findings:

For the better off, Covid-19 has for many provided nutritional benefits, the FSA noted, with its tracker survey showing more people cooking at home from scratch using healthy ingredients rather than having takeaways or buying processed meals, as well as enjoying more family meals together.

These benefits were largely denied to people in food insecurity, whose diet narrowed sharply and was biased towards cheap carbohydrates like rice and pasta. One man, the FSA study found, “ate mostly tinned peas on toast; another woman mostly bread.” Many showed “early signs” of malnutrition. Others put on weight.

Many people … reported regularly eating food beyond its use-by date … Over a quarter said they drank milk that was past its use-by date. “Stretching out” food in this way put them at risk of food poisoning.

So the rich have become healthier while the poor are in danger of being poisoned.

This is due to decisions made by your Conservative government, which they say were necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

And they are inflicting it on people they persuaded into voting for them.

Source: UK’s poorest ‘skip meals and go hungry’ during coronavirus crisis | UK news | The Guardian

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Fat Boris’s war on obesity is an insult to the poor

Fat Boris Johnson: his crusade against obesity ignores the fact that people cannot afford to buy healthy food, so none of the measures he has announced will have any effect at all.

Fat Boris Johnson really is an ignorant dimwit, isn’t he?

He has started a crusade against obesity, claiming he realised the need to lose some of his own tonnage after realising it was hindering his own ability to recover from Covid-19.

But here’s the problem: Under Tories like Fat Boris, obesity isn’t a personal choice; it’s a political one, made for the poor by national leaders like him.

He has chosen to make millions of people across the UK poor, thereby restricting the food we can afford to eat.

The cheapest food is high in sugars and fats – the ingredients that make us obese.

So we don’t have a choice. Until we can afford to buy healthier food, we will continue to struggle with weight gain.

And Johnson won’t let us earn enough.

So all his protestations about the need to lose weight, to be able to fight Covid-19, are pointless. We might as well listen to a whale spewing water out of its blowhole.

The Tory attitude is ridiculous, too – have you heard the nonsense spouted by the government about its “world-leading” plan?

Top of the list is a ban on adverts for “unhealthy” food before 9pm, when children can see them. Pointless if the adults left to watch them are financially bound to buy those foods in any event.

Next is an end to BOGOF – Buy One, Get One Free – promotions, meaning cash-strapped families will be forced to pay even more for their unhealthy food, while still being unable to afford better fare.

Large restaurant, cafe and take-away chains will be required to add labels to the food they sell, showing their calorie content. Again, this will make no difference to people who are forced by financial circumstances to buy what they can, rather than what they want.

There are other measures including diverting NHS time and effort to promoting weight loss, but this will not help people who simply don’t have the wherewithal to follow the recommendations of dieticians in the service. It will simply waste even more scant NHS resources.

Ultimately, Fat Boris isn’t helping you. He’s selling you a pup and asking you to swallow it.

Source: Poverty causes obesity. Low-income families need to be better off to eat well | Business | The Guardian

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Covid-19: Two-thirds of poorest workers have lost jobs or been furloughed

Some political stories are very straightforward, and don’t need any explanation or debate. This appears to be one of them:

Nearly two thirds of the poorest workers have been furloughed, lost their job or had their hours or pay reduced during the pandemic, new research suggests.

Analysis from the Social Metrics Commission found 65% of workers deemed in “deep poverty” – living on less than half of what they need to stay above the poverty line – have suffered a negative hit to their livelihoods.

This compares to 35% of employed adults living more than 20% above the poverty line prior to the crisis.

The report warned that many people living in poverty could see their situation worsen, while those close to the poverty line risk falling below it due to changes to their employment prospects.

It comes as big firms cut 4,500 jobs in the first two working days of August as the Government’s furlough scheme begins to wind down.

A fifth of employees in deep poverty before coronavirus said they had since lost their jobs, compared to 7% of adults more than 20% above the poverty line.

More than a third (36%) of people at least 50% below the poverty line had been affected, compared to 22% of those more than 20% above the poverty line.

Workers from black, Asian and minority ethnic background were more affected than white people, with 10% of BAME workers hit compared to 8% of their white peers.

More than half (56%) of 18-to-24-year-olds working prior to the pandemic have experienced some kind of negative impact on their employment, compared to roughly a third of 25-to-54-year-olds previously working.

Younger people were also more than twice as likely to say they had been lonely during the pandemic than those over the age of 65.

These outcomes are not caused by Covid-19.

They have been caused by Tories. Remember that.

Source: Two thirds of poorest workers have lost jobs or been furloughed during coronavirus – Mirror Online

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One in eight childcare workers in England earns much less than the minimum wage

We thought this window-writing was by a child in care. It seems it might have been by a carer instead.

This research shows all the hallmarks of Tory employment policy: early years workers – predominantly female – are considered to be of low worth and paid less than the minimum wage, and have few career options – and the Covid crisis is likely to make matters worse.

It’s Conservative policy, remember: they have victimised women since they got back into office in 2010, with the so-called austerity policies attacking women far more than men.

One in eight childcare workers in England earn less than £5 an hour, according to new research which warns that low pay, high workload and a lack of career development are having an adverse effect on the sector.

The Social Mobility Commission (SMC) report says… as many as 13% of childcare workers are paid under £5 an hour.

The workforce included apprentices, students on placement, volunteers as well as childminders, hence the low hourly rates.

Staff turnover is high at 13%, with one in six leaving their posts within a year, and 37% quitting within two years.

The report also highlights a lack of training opportunities for those who enter the workforce, which is 96% female, with just 17% of early years workers in receipt of job-related training.

Workload is high and the job carries considerable responsibility – more than one in 10 (11%) full-time early years workers reported working more than 42 hours per week, compared to 3% of retail workers.

It’s cognitive dissonance; the job is clearly highly-responsible and stressful, yet the remuneration is pitiful and there are no associated benefits.

Does this not indicate a political decision by the Tories?

That party’s notorious “nudge unit” has long been tasked with pushing people into particular decisions by making the alternative unacceptable.

Apparently they don’t want children to have professional care while we go to work.

Clearly we’ll all have to stay at home instead – or stop having children so we can go to work.

But if we stay home, what will happen to the economy?

And if we stop having children, well, there aren’t enough people working in the economy to support the current number of senior citizens, and that will only get worse if the working population diminishes – as it must in that eventuality.

So it seems that, by allowing childcare workers to be treated so badly, the Tories are deliberately trying to trash the UK economy.

And some of us voted them into office with a landslide in order to do that.

Were these voters ill, or insane, or suffering mass hysteria?

Source: One in eight childcare workers in England earn less than £5 an hour | Childcare | The Guardian

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Boris Johnson has committed contempt of Parliament and should be expelled

The two-fingered salute: that sign of contempt is all Boris Johnson has for you whenever he speaks.

Why is Boris Johnson still a member of Parliament?

There is an offence, here in the UK, known as Contempt of Parliament (I’ve mentioned it before). An MP is guilty of this if he or she deliberately misleads Parliament, and any MP accused of the offence may be suspended or expelled.

Our odious prime minister is a repeat offender. It is one thing to be “economical with the truth”, as the euphemism goes; it is entirely different to present known falsehoods to the House of Commons as though they were accurate.

Johnson’s latest wheeze involves repeatedly using inaccurate and misleading figures that exaggerated the government’s record on child poverty, in which he stated at Prime Minister’s Questions and in an interview with the BBC that poverty had declined since 2010, and there were now 400,000 fewer families in poverty.

There is no evidence to support the claim. This has been made clear by the Office for Statistics Regulation, whose representatives said that the prime minister had three times used official poverty data “selectively, inaccurately and, ultimately, misleadingly”.

This suggests very clearly that Johnson lied deliberately. This is a clear example of contempt of Parliament. Why has no action been taken against him?

The OSR added: “There is no wrong measure, but there is a wrong way of using the available measures – and that is to pick and choose which statistics to use based on what best suits the argument you happen to be making.”

The complaint, from Anna Feuchtwang, the chair of End Child Poverty, highlighted three occasions when Johnson made inaccurate claims on the government’s record on poverty.

At PMQs on 17 June, Johnson told the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, he was “completely wrong” to say child poverty had risen by 600,000. Poverty had declined since 2010, the PM claimed, and there were now 400,000 fewer families in poverty. Feuchtwang wrote that the 600,000 figure was correct.

When asked by Starmer at PMQs the following week to “do the decent thing” and correct the record on child poverty, Johnson declined and said there were “100,000 fewer children in absolute poverty and 500,000 children falling below thresholds of low income and material deprivation”.

Feuchtwang said that while the 100,000 figure was correct, the second figure was not: she pointed out that “there are actually 1.5 million children classed as low income and materially deprived”.

The third instance was when Johnson was interviewed by Andrew Marr on the BBC on 1 December during the general election campaign, when the PM claimed child poverty had fallen by 400,000 since 2010. Feuchtwang said that official statistics at the time showed the poverty rate had risen on two of the official measures, stayed the same on a third, and fallen by 100,000 on a fourth, suggesting it was unclear where Johnson had found the figure he cited.

It’s time for Johnson to put up or shut up. He must either admit that he lied to Parliament and to the people in order to justify his despicable treatment of the most vulnerable people in the country…

… or he must be expelled from Parliament like the disgrace that he is.

[Some of you may have noticed a similarity in the words above to an article I wrote about former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, seven years ago, when he was merrily lying to Parliament – also about poverty. This is deliberate. Tories have been lying to Parliament throughout the last 10 years of their rule – and getting away with it. They really do seem to be above the law and we should be demanding that this must change NOW.]

Source: Boris Johnson repeatedly used inaccurate child poverty figures | Boris Johnson | The Guardian

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MP of the Year award attacked over harmful corporate sponsor. Time for a campaign to remove it?

KPMG: this corporation, part of the Atos group that has done so much harm to sick and disabled people, sponsors the Patchwork Foundation’s MP of the Year awards, Should it?

It seems the only element likely to stop Jeremy Corbyn from winning the Patchwork Foundation’s MP of the Year award is the fact that it is sponsored by corporations that have contributed to the oppression of the poor and vulnerable.

Mr Corbyn is on the shortlist of MPs for whom the public is asked to vote.

But some supporters of the former Labour leader – including his own former Shadow Chancellor – are having nothing to do with it because it is sponsored by firms including KPMG.

The controversy sprang up on This Writer’s Twitter feed overnight, springing from discussion over whether certain vested interests would allow Mr Corbyn to win, after their success in ousting last year’s popular left-wing candidate, Chris Williamson.

Paula Peters, a popular campaigner for people with disabilities and friend of This Site, raised the alarm:

It was confirmed by others:

Atos is the company that – now under an alias – carries out assessments of benefit claimants’ ability to work, when they claim sickness and/or disability benefits. It took over KPMG in 2002, and it seems some have little to say in its favour.

The firm’s record for refusing benefits to people who genuinely deserve them – who have then gone on to suffer extreme hardship and, in many cases, death – is well-documented on This Site and elsewhere.

It reflects extremely poorly on the Patchwork Foundation that it would seek – or allow – sponsorship of any of its work by a firm of such character.

KPMG’s sponsorship of the award is not well-signposted; it appears as one of many on a tickertape at the bottom of the awards’ web page.

Paula’s tweet sparked strong responses:

For This writer, the most telling comment in the discussion is Paula’s below:

So perhaps that is what should be done.

Obviously I am too busy with annoying distractions like my two court cases to take on another campaign, but would anybody like to launch one calling on the Patchwork Foundation to decline sponsorship from organisations that are known to cause harm to people?

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Child benefit scandal: a million more children in poverty, 900 women forced to disclose rape

The Scottish National Party seems to have taken over what used to be Labour’s job as guardian of vulnerable benefit claimants.

(And it’s a good thing; Keir Starmer seems to think he is better-occupied persecuting innocent party members with trumped-up anti-Semitism accusations.)

So we have the SNP to thank for revealing the latest scandalous details of the Tory government’s decision to deprive parents of child benefit if they have more than two children – and to force mothers to relive details of rape as the price of having that benefit restored for additional children.

Here’s the headline:

New figures published by the UK government have revealed that 911,190 children have lost access to vital financial support since April 2017, while 900 women have been forced to disclose that their child was conceived of rape in order to access vital funds.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss first discovered the two-child cap and the so-called “rape clause” in George Osborne’s 2015 Budget and has been a vocal opponent of the policy since its inception.

The MP has challenged the Prime Minister to scrap the abhorrent policy, describing the figures as “a horrific legacy for any government”.

She said: “The UK Tory government’s own data reveals the devastating impact of their two-child limit on families across the UK. Approaching one million children are now suffering financial hardship, the majority of them in families where their parents are working.

“This is a horrific legacy for any government. It’s time for Boris Johnson to wake up to this reality, signal a change of direction on welfare and scrap this pernicious Tory policy.

“Most shocking of all, 900 women have been forced to go through the process of claiming for an exception due to a non-consensual conception. Every single one of these women has been put in a position where they’ve had to fill in a form to prove their child was conceived as a result of rape or coercion, just to make ends meet.

“The UK Government has no place to hide in the face of these damning statistics. Covid-19 has exposed the gaps in the social security safety net – I urge the new Prime Minister to do the right thing and scrap the two-child limit for everyone”.

But this is Boris Johnson she’s talking about. Do you honestly think he could care less?

Source: NEARLY 1 MILLION CHILDREN INTO POVERTY, 900 WOMEN FORCED TO DISCLOSE RAPE – Welfare Weekly

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While Sunak offers pointless meal vouchers they can’t use, child malnutrition doubles in six months

The offers in Rishi Sunak’s summer statement were intended to distract you from this.

Of course child malnourishment has doubled in the last six months, because more children are in poverty – and were, even before the Covid-19 crisis hit the UK.

The number of households with hungry children has doubled during lockdown because children reliant on school breakfast clubs and lunches have been deprived of them.

And their parents – already too poor to afford to feed their children in normal circumstances – have been left to support their families on a fraction of their normal pay (if they’re lucky) or on Universal Credit.

But if they’re claiming UC, they’ve had to wait at least five weeks for their first payment – and possibly as long as 11 weeks.

They won’t be able to benefit from the Chancellor’s “meal deal” vouchers because their parents/guardians can’t afford half the price of eating out – which is necessary before the vouchers can be used.

And let’s remember that Boris Johnson wanted to end free school meals for deprived children during the summer holidays, only relenting after a high-profile footballer’s campaign won widespread public support.

The detail that makes this news horrifying, rather than merely appalling, is the fact that fewer than two-thirds of all hospital trusts have provided information.

It means the number of malnourished children in the UK may in fact have tripled – or worse.

What if any – or many – of them die?

Tory voters: did you really want that on your conscience when you voted your beloved Boris Johnson such a huge victory last year?

Almost 2,500 children have been admitted to hospital with malnutrition in the first six months of the year – double the number over the same period last year – prompting fresh concern that families are struggling to afford to feed themselves and that the pandemic has intensified the problem.

Freedom of information responses from almost 50 trusts in England, representing 150 hospitals, show that more than 11,500 children have been admitted to hospital with malnutrition since 2015.

Almost 1,000 under-16s with malnutrition were admitted as inpatients to Cambridge University hospitals NHS foundation trust alone, suggesting the affluent city has wide disparities in wealth.

Collectively the figures reveal 11,515 cases of hospital admissions of under-16s due to malnourishment. Fewer than two-thirds of all trusts responded, suggesting the real total figure is much higher.

Source: Cases of child malnutrition in England double in last six months | Society | The Guardian

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The Tories have used the Coronavirus crisis to attack disabled women

Actor Rory Kinnear’s disabled sister Karina died of Covid-19 recently: writing about it, he tried not to criticise the government too harshly. Would many other women with disabilities agree with that choice?

How miserable, how underhanded can a country’s government be in attacking its most vulnerable citizens?

This Writer would suggest that the UK’s Conservative government is writing the book on how to betray the people who need state help the most.

Women have been disproportionately attacked by Tory cuts since they first slithered back into office in 2010, along with people who have disabilities. It doesn’t take genius to work out that women with disabilities are doubly endangered by a Conservative government.

But now we have the evidence, courtesy of gender equality charities the Fawcett Society and Women’s Budget Group. It shows that:

  • Six in 10 disabled women are struggling to buy necessities from the shop during lockdown. A third have run out of money altogether.
  • A fifth of disabled women said they had lost support from the government during lockdown, while almost half reported having lost help from other people.
  • Six in 10 disabled women are fearful of not being able to access medicine.
  • 38 per cent of disabled women who have children said they were finding it difficult to ensure their children have food to eat during the coronavirus emergency.
  • Disabled women were found to be suffering from social isolation and loneliness more than others — with a quarter saying they had not ventured out of the house once in the last week, in comparison to 17 per cent of all those polled.

But it seems worse is to come with the easing of lockdown, including problems with face coverings – who should wear them, the impossibility of lip-reading – to wider isolation, more cuts and restricted access to services.

And you know what the government spokesperson will do, if challenged? They’ll shrug.

Source: Disabled women in ‘very bleak’ situation as almost a third running out of money in lockdown, study finds | The Independent

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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