Tag Archives: voucher

Starmer, Labour, and the bullying that stigmatises people as ‘undeserving poor’

Starmer: his policy chief tells him to focus on the middle classes rather than the “undeserving” poor – so he sits there in his best suit and haircut waving the flag at us. Meanwhile thousands starve because they’re afraid of being labelled by this posh psychological bully.

Earlier today (August 5) This Site published a piece commenting on Marcus Rashford’s concern that people weren’t claiming food vouchers for their children for fear of the “stigma” that would be attached to them if they did.

Connected with that, I see that advice given to then-interim Labour leader Harriet Harman in 2015 – by that party’s current strategy director – advised her to ignore the needs of the “undeserving poor” and focus on the desires of the middle class.

There is a strong element of bullying in this.

You can bet your bottom dollar that Keir Starmer is wholeheartedly buying into that strategy today – you only have to look at where his priorities lie to see that he couldn’t give a fig for anybody who doesn’t work in a suit and earn a six-figure salary.

And people who don’t have white-collar jobs and huge salaries – the vast majority of us – are aware of this, even if we haven’t been told explicitly.

“Don’t ask us for help because you won’t get it.”

“You are a sponger.”

“You are a scrounger.”

“If you had the slightest value, you would be lifting yourself out of poverty.”

We’ve heard those lines many times before – and others like them.

The fact that Labour endorses those via the policies put forward by its strategy director means people know there’s no hope for them if they admit poverty.

So they do the British thing: stiff upper lip, keep up appearances, pretend to be “managing” even when they aren’t.

And they avoid schemes set up to help them, even to the point of letting their children starve.

(And this feeds in to the policy demands of both the Tories and StarmerLabour, because they can then claim that such initiatives aren’t needed.)

It is insidious and it is evil. Perhaps Starmer should sack Deborah Mattinson and hire Marcus Rashford instead?

Source: Starmer’s strategy director advised Labour to ignore ‘undeserving’ poor – SKWAWKBOX

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Rashford: Is lack of awareness stopping people claiming food vouchers – or misplaced pride?

The difference between sustenance and starvation: will medical staff step in and point out to families who fear the stigma of claiming food vouchers that there is no shame in feeding their children?

It’s a curiously British phenomenon, this – the mass idiocy that encourages us to say we’re managing (when we’re not) rather than accept help from the government.

Government help is in short supply under the Tories. Anybody who has the chance should seize it with both hands.

But people who can – and should – claim food vouchers aren’t doing it, according to Marcus Rashford, whose campaign for the government to provide free school meals during the holidays saved thousands of your children from starvation over the last year.

The BBC’s report is garbled regarding who can benefit, as it mixes Rashford’s school meals scheme with one for pregnant women and low-income families with children aged under four. Perhaps this new campaign is for both.

Rashford himself, writing in the British Medical Journal, said the food voucher scheme has helped 57,000 parents, but expressed concern that it was “plateauing”.

He said more than 40 per cent of people who were eligible had not registered, and suggested that this was because they came from communities with “no internet, no high street, no word of mouth” – in other words, no way of learning that the scheme even exists.

He called on health professionals to do more to ensure everybody knows about the scheme who are entitled to apply, “especially given the planned digitisation of the scheme this autumn, which will disproportionately disadvantage those without easy access to the internet”.

He asked staff to use an online eligibility calculator and “consider collaborating with us on communicating and educating people about the scheme when possible”.

Crucially, though, he also acknowledged that some people may have been shamed out of applying, in fear that they would be labelled (perhaps as the “undeserving poor”?) because they have been pushed into a position where they have been prevented from being able to feed their children.

He said more needs to be done to end any “silly” stigma and to persuade people to register for support.

I hope doctors and other medical staff pay attention to this.

It would be shocking if children starved because people who have sworn to do no harm found it awkward to do a little good.

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Shameless Tory Children’s Minister tries to steal credit for Marcus Rashford’s school meals campaign

Brazen: Ford’s false claims are disproved by her own voting record.

How brazen can these Tories be?

Children’s Minister Vicky Ford has told Good Morning Britain viewers that she – not Marcus Rashford – was the person who got the government to extend free school meals into the holidays during the Covid-19 crisis, and who created lockdown meal vouchers.

She said she was not influenced by Rashford’s campaign at all.

Her claim has been ridiculed by those of us who can read Hansard, which shows that she voted against demands for such schemes – twice.

See for yourself:

Social media commentators have used the claim to make Ford a target for ridicule – and rightly so:

I want to know what Marcus Rashford – who received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List last year for his  services to vulnerable children in the UK during COVID-19, has to say about Ms Ford’s claims.

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After ‘hamper’ fiasco, Tories want to deny kids free school meals during half term week. But what are they hiding with all this noise?

Scandal: only two days ago, the Tory government came under attack for letting an outsourcing company skim £25 in profit from the cost of a £30 food hamper FOR CHILDREN. Now the Tories are trying to confuse parents by forcing them to apply to their local council for food vouchers over half term week. Is it all a big distraction from something else they don’t want us to see?

Isn’t it incredible?

Days after they were found to have been starving children by outsourcing £30 ‘free school meal’ hampers to a company that provided only £5 worth of food and kept the other £25 to itself, the Conservative government has announced a plan to starve schoolkids during half term week.

They say they won’t allow schools to provide free meals to pupils who usually get them; instead, local councils have been given responsibility to provide food under the Covid Winter Grant Scheme.

This scheme provided £170 million to councils in December. Under it, families have to apply to their local council for help, and will get a £15 voucher for each qualifying child.

It seems a deliberate attempt to cause confusion by switching schemes just when families need clarity.

And how much of that £170m fund has been spent already? It’s not a lot, divided across the whole of England (other UK countries have equivalent schemes, according to the government).

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, warned that switching schemes meant “yet more disruption to free schools meals could lie ahead in half term”.

He said that rather than allowing schools to carry on providing food it would cause an “unnecessary logistical nightmare”.

He said ministers should now “hang their heads in shame” for threatening more “chaos and confusion” over providing food.

“These are battles which should not have to be repeatedly fought,” said Mr Courtney.

But they are.

And both the media and the public tend to focus on recurring issues like this, to the exclusion of other matters happening at the time.

School meals don’t cost a huge amount – in government terms – and it won’t cause too much upset if the Tories are forced to capitulate again.

So This Writer is left to ask what else is happening that the Tories don’t want us to know?

Source: Row over half term free school meals plan – BBC News

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Ben Bradley’s meltdown: Mansfield MP tries to justify starving hungry children – digs own political grave instead

Ben Bradley: you’d think he would learn to keep his mouth shut after he called for poor people to be forced to have vasectomies and libelled Jeremy Corbyn.

This MP’s attempt to deny the reality of his behaviour suggests mental health problems to This Writer.

Ben Bradley (for it was he), the Tory responsible for the most-shared tweet ever by a Conservative MP – his apology for libelling Jeremy Corbyn – and who once suggested sterilising the poor, tried to justify his opposition to Marcus Rashford’s plea for free school meals to be extended over the holidays, to feed hungry children whose parents have suffered financially as a result of the Covid-19 crisis (and other reasons).

He tweeted a message to Rashford, offering to take him to visit a school where – he said – the head teacher agreed with his view that FSM (free school meals) would not solve the problem of hungry kids:

He doubled down on the offer the following day:

But in this tweet he made the mistake of mentioning the school: Oak Tree. This allowed an actual governor to put him straight:

Worse was to follow. He went on to refer to a school (although I can’t tell whether it’s the same one) as having pupils living in “a crack den” and “a brothel” – and when someone else suggested such places were logical destinations for the money from a free school meal voucher, he agreed:

… and then he denied it:

(I’ve opted to use the actual tweet, rather than a screenshot. I wonder if it will be deleted?)

Next, he took to Facebook to try to justify himself:

(It didn’t go down well.)

Now he has fallen into an argument with representatives of another school:

Finally (so far) he appeared on the BBC’s Breakfast News, where Naga Munchetty made an utter fool of him:

The public response has been to recoil as though his psychosis is contagious:

Perhaps the sharpest point is the following. Who is really more dependent on state funding?

If anyone at the school(s) Bradley has mentioned can find a way, This Writer thinks Bradley may find himself facing the sharp end of another legal letter in the not-too-distant future.

And his Corbyn apology shows he knows none of his denials or justifications will stand up in court.

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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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Backlash against Sunak’s ‘meal deal’ voucher scheme that ignores people in genuine need

Members of the public are speaking out against Rishi Sunak’s offer of vouchers supporting half the price of eating out – pointing out that people need to be able to afford the other half of the cost before they can use it at all.

It’s an upper-middle-class jolly that won’t help people who rely on food banks, or carers, or beleaguered NHS staff who Sunak’s own government is persecuting, they say – rightly.

And they say the decision to offer meal vouchers was in very poor taste when Boris Johnson was keen to stop providing such vouchers to parents of children who receive free school meals over the summer holidays, even though the Covid-19 crisis has put many of them in extreme need.

Here’s just a selection of the responses. See if you agree with them, rather than Sunak:

(Good point about the self-employed.)

https://twitter.com/CptPicardigan/status/1280947082879254528

Yes, what a world.

To think that we could have had fairness under a Jeremy Corbyn government instead, if only people had engaged their brains before going to the polling booths last year.

Come to that, isn’t it incredible that it is too much to hope for people to engage their brains before voting?

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Why are Tory MPs manufacturing outrage that parents want the government to feed their children? They expect the same!

Ben Bradley: you’d think he would learn to keep his mouth shut after he called for poor people to be forced to have vasectomies and libelled Jeremy Corbyn.

How many MPs are claiming expenses to cover the costs of having children?

This Writer doesn’t have the current figures but in 2013 I know 148 of them were claiming extra money to rent larger homes and cover the cost of youngsters’ travel.

According to the Daily Mirror at the time, MPs had claimed around £140,000 for kids’ travel between 2010 and 2013.

And Parliamentary standards watchdog IPSA was allowing MPs to increase the maximum allowance they could claim by £2,425 for each child they said lived with them.

Some MPs – including nine cabinet ministers – were claiming more than £10,000 extra.

I mention this because certain Conservative MPs have been kicking up a fuss about the comparatively small amount – per person – that will go towards extending free school meals throughout the summer holidays in England.

Tory Sally-Ann Hart seemed to think it was wrong for parents to “expect” the government to feed their children, even though she is part of a government whose members expect their own childcare to be paid by the public and not from their own pay packets.

I find this part particularly interesting:

[She] said MPs must “not shy away” from the issue that some parents “just do not or cannot prioritise their children’s needs over their own”.

And she said the Government must “turbocharge” its efforts to understand why such neglect happens.

Perhaps Ms Hart should turn to some of her neighbours on the Green Benches and ask them – just as a starting-point?

As responses from the public go, I don’t think you’ll find one better than this:

Another Tory – Ben Bradley – demanded safeguards to ensure that parents could not use free school meal vouchers to obtain alcohol and cigarettes.

Fine words from a man who belongs to an institution where people like himself frequently run up huge bills at the various Parliamentary bars, on expenses.

In fact, some of them have even refused to pay altogether.

But Ms Hart and Mr Bradley – who is also on record as calling for poor men to be vasectomised, and had to apologise publicly and pay money to charity after libelling Jeremy Corbyn – don’t seem to be aware of these facts.

Perhaps they should examine behaviour closer to their own homes, rather than accusing people before they’ve even had a chance to do anything wrong.

Source: Tory MP says some parents ‘expect the government to feed their children’ – Mirror Online

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Is the government cutting school meal vouchers for ALL deprived kids?

No square meals: vulnerable children will be forced to go hungry during the school holidays because the stingy Tory government wants them to starve.

School meal vouchers for deprived children in at least one council area are being stopped – because it’s half term.

Isn’t that typically short-sighted of the Conservative government (Westminster funds the scheme)?

The coronavirus crisis means more people than ever are short of cash, and this will only tip the most vulnerable even further into poverty.

This is a decision to starve children – and for no reason at all.

Here’s the Liverpool Echo:

Children in one of Britain’s most deprived boroughs will have to go without free school meals over half term.

Knowsley Council said it was unable to extend its voucher system over the break as the government would not fund the scheme outside term time.

Cllr Jayne Aston, the borough’s finance chief, said: “Despite our best efforts, and those of other organisations, we have been unable to persuade the government to recognise the challenge many families are facing and fund the vouchers over the school half term break.”

Although the government agreed to fund free school meals during the Easter holidays, it has so far refused to extend provision into either half term or the summer break.

How many children in other council areas will be affected by this?

And how much harm will the Tories cause by making them starve?

Source: Government won’t fund school meal vouchers for deprived kids over half term – Liverpool Echo

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School meal vouchers for poorest families ‘delayed’ – yet another Tory coronavirus fail

School meal: this image is from before the coronavirus lockdown. These kids are probably starving to death right now, waiting for their mythical Tory meal vouchers.

Oh, they’ve been delayed, have they? Funny, that…

Funny that the claim comes after This Site ran a poll asking whether anybody had received their vouchers – and two-thirds of the respondents said no.

Funny that the Tory government seems unable to supply anything that it has promised in the coronavirus crisis.

They promised plenty of personal protective equipment for NHS staff dealing with people who have the disease – and didn’t supply it. Medical professionals are dying, who should be helping to treat the virus, because of this failure.

They promised ventilators to stop people with the disease from dying of the pneumonia that kills them – and didn’t. This meant GP surgeries ended up asking some of the most vulnerable people in the UK to sign forms saying the did not want ventilators if they caught the disease – effectively signing their lives away.

They promised 100,000 tests per day to find carriers of the disease – and ended up turning away offers to supply test kits.

They promised to help victims of domestic abuse who have been shut in their homes with their abusers. No such help has been forthcoming.

They promised all kinds of financial packages to help businesses and employees hit by the pandemic – leaving gaping holes in the provision, through which many people are in danger of falling (if they haven’t already done so).

These Tories have promised the world, and delivered very little indeed – apart from at least 7,097 deaths so far.

So ask yourself: are they evil, or just monumentally stupid?

Many families whose children are eligible for free school meals have not received supermarket vouchers as promised by the government because of delays in the supply system, school leaders say.

Headteachers and school business managers in England said the problem was widespread, and many took to social media to complain about difficulties accessing the scheme and delays in delivering vouchers to the families who need them.

Until now there has been support for the government’s announcement of a national voucher scheme to ensure that children from the poorest families continue to receive free meals while schools are closed during the Covid-19 crisis.

Source: UK’s poorest families suffering as free school meal vouchers delayed | Education | The Guardian

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