Tag Archives: poverty

Deborah Orr and Iain Duncan Smith – Two Sides of the Same Coin

There is nothing more vile than the rich lecturing the rest of us about what it means to be poor.  Whether it comes from a chinless failure like IDS, who sponges off his wife’s wealth, or a liberal hack like Deborah Orr, who sponges off her husband’s book royalties, it is the most contemptible trait of the so called chattering classes that they think they know anything at all about our lives.

Couched as it is in crass liberal piety, Deborah Orr’s column in The Guardian today exposes the truth about what fake left liberals truly think of those who haven’t reached their latte slurping heights.  The concept of the deserving and undeserving poor is just as entrenched amongst humous guzzling Clapham (or in Orr’s care, edgy Stockwell) yummy mummys and flash daddys as it is in any Knightsbridge drinking club.

Orr has deigned to speak of the lower classes today in order to offer a tacit defence of Iain Duncan Smith’s attempt to rebrand poverty as a moral failing.

In an attempt to demonstrate she isn’t a vile old Tory, Orr points out that a life of minimum wage work is hardly an aspiration, unlike Iain Duncan Smith’s work makes you free mantra.  She stops far short of calling for higher wages though (wonder how much she pays her cleaner?).  Instead she declares:  “Duncan Smith’s indicators invite consideration of how the poorest can truly be motivated.”

Nothing else she says before or after this statement really matters.  She has clearly decided in her Chablis addled mind that all the poor need to do is motivate themselves and their problems will disappear.

Iain Duncan Smith announced this week that he will abandon the internationally agreed definition of poverty, which is calculated according to how much money someone has compared to everyone else.  Instead he has come up with yet another hare-brained scheme which attempts to shift the blame of poverty firmly onto those who are poor.

Along with the predictable ‘worklessness’, the new Tory speak for unemployment, IDS claims that family breakdown, poor health, low educational attainment, addiction and debt are the new causes of child poverty.

Yet even the richest in society can suffer from all of these  so called moral failings including worklessness.  Deborah Orr is a prime example.  She seems to think that writing the occasional shit column for The Guardian, whilst her husband – the public school then Oxford educated Will Self – spunks out the odd book and is sometimes on the telly, means they have proper jobs.

Worklessness infects the cosy media elite, with their army of underpaid child minders and  cleaners, far more than the rest of us who have to clean up our own shit and look after our our own kids.

As for the other new indicators of poverty, poor health can happen to anyone, and at some point is likely to happen to everyone.  Millionaires can run up huge debts whilst the divorce courts are full of squabbling Tarquins and Jemimas ripping each other apart over who gets to keep the fucking chandelier.  Deborah Orr’s own husband spent a large part of his earlier arduous career as a Guardian journalist shooting up smack.

The question is how these social problems, which cut across the classes, impact on people’s lives.  And that is down to how much money people have.

When kids who’ve lost EMA can no longer afford books and fares to school or College, their poverty has nothing to do with poor educational attainment.  Their poor educational attainment is down to the fact they’ve got no fucking money.  When people’s health is worsened because they can’t afford good food, warm homes, or their local hospital has closed down, that  is down to simple lack of cash.

If couples split up because of arguments over money, or because the benefit system increasingly pays people to be apart – something that will get much worse when next year’s benefit cap for families is introduced – they are placed under that pressure because they are skint.  When families run up huge debts with loan sharks because they can’t pay the heating bill, then that debt is merely a symptom of having no money, not the initial cause.

People on sickness or disability benefits are not poor because they are unmotivated, or even because they are sick or disabled.  Lots of rich people are sick or disabled.  They are poor because society no longer has the decency to ensure those who can’t work due to illness or disability are paid a livable income.

And whilst a cosy spell in The Priory may be enough to confine youthful drug addiction to a scary dinner party anecdote amongst the pampered middle classes, shit housing, shit benefits, and shit treatment services mean the reality is very different if you are poor.  And by poor I mean have no money, which is what poor means.

The endless jumping through intellectual hoops in an effort to redefine poverty that comes from both liberals and tories is rooted in the same entrenched sense of class entitlement.  Neither wishes to acknowledge their own privilege and instead insist they are in such a cosy position because they are simply wonderful examples of human beings who’ve worked hard and are very clever.  Both sides overlook the structures in society which create both mass poverty and their own affluent lifestyles.  And both sides, just like  Deborah Orr and Iain Duncan Smith, send their children to private school to pass on their social privilege.

They will both connive to maintain this privilege, insisting that society can’t be organised any other way and all the poor need to do is pull their socks up and stop whining.  As Deborah Orr herself said, protesting about the cuts is a waste of time.

And both, whether openly expressed, or snidely insinuated, believe that those with least are responsible for their poverty – because if people stop blaming the poor, then they might start blaming the rich.  And even the most mung bean sprouting, Big Issue buying, politically correct and oh so concerned affluent liberal knows instinctively whose side they are really on in the class war.

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Benefit claimants to be forced to borrow from the government to pay tax

The suggestion that people dependent on Hardship Payment, which can be as little as £42 a week, are frittering away money on nights out and holidays, reveals a Government so out of touch you’d imagine they’d never set foot in a supermarket.

That these comments should come, not from a gilded toff like George Osborne, or a lying bastard like Chris Grayling, but instead from Iain Duncan Smith – who actually appears to believe this bullshit – is perhaps the most staggering fact of all.

Iain Duncan Smith is planning to scrap Hardship Payments and replace them with loans, claiming in The Sun this week that he believes the money is being wasted on “life’s extras such as nights out, holidays or subscription TV.”

Not content with this delusion, plans were also announced this week to escalate the sickness and disability benefit sanctions regime, meaning disabled claimants who are sanctioned could be left with less than £30 a week.

Perhaps IDS is so clueless that he simply doesn’t understand that  many people, particularly those with health conditions, can easily spend £20 a week on fuel, and still spend half the winter feeling cold in their own homes.   Perhaps he just doesn’t know that water charges can be £7 a week for a claimant living alone?  It is possible that he hasn’t even noticed that due to housing benefit cuts many claimants are paying a significant sum each week towards their rent.

The meagre amount of money left to sanctioned claimants is barely even enough to pay for rent, water and fuel – let alone food, debts, toiletries or transport fares.

Benefit bashers, who no longer appear to care should disabled people or families with children go hungry, will claim that people only have themselves to blame.  That if unemployed or disabled people hadn’t broken their Work Related Activity agreements then they wouldn’t have had benefits sanctioned.  But sanctions are an increasingly arbitrary and over-used measure, with over half a million claims sanctioned last year.  10,000 sanctions were handed out to those on sickness or disability benefits in the same year, almost half of them aimed at those with mental health conditions.

Some benefit claimants have difficulties with literacy, others may not speak English as a first language. Many more have health conditions.  All live in poverty.  With informal pressure placed on Jobcentre staff, it is clearly the most vulnerable – those who can’t, or won’t fight back – who are likely to have benefits sanctioned.

Claimants can be sanctioned because they couldn’t afford the bus fare to the Jobcentre for a meeting, were too ill to attend, or simply didn’t understand the requirements placed on them by over zealous Jobcentre staff.  An increasing number of people report being sanctioned because the Jobcentre made a mistake.  And even in cases where a claimant has knowingly not met jobseeking conditions, is hunger and debt really an acceptable punishment for someone who missed a meeting with the Jobcentre?

When Universal Credit is finally introduced sanctions are to be vastly extended.  Single parents, disabled people and part time workers will all face increasingly punitive measures should they fall foul of the endlessly complex rules.  The draft regulations for Universal Credit suggest that even Housing Benefits may be stopped should a claimant be sanctioned, and that in some cases a sanction can apply for up to three years.  Some claimants could be left facing debts running to thousands of pounds should their claim be sanctioned.

Iain Duncan Smith seems to think this will force people to find work, with these debts being cancelled should someone stay in full time employment for six months.  Yet with soaring unemployment, despite what the manipulated figures might say, there are simply no jobs available.  For those with children, health conditions or disabilities, the situation is even more acute.  Even the billions currently being handed to welfare to work parasites, the so called experts in finding people work, are being squandered as long term unemployment continues to rise.

Just as importantly, for those forced to live on hardship payments, is where the money is supposed to come from to go out and get that job.  IDS, having never known poverty himself, simply cannot understand that when you’ve only got £20 left for the week then every pound counts.  Things like new clothes, bus fares to interviews, newspapers, stamps, internet access, even basic hygiene, can go out of the window.  There is almost no better way to ensure that someone won’t find a job then forcing them into extreme poverty, meaning they spend time walking to food banks rather than trying to find work.

Perhaps most shocking of all is that when changes to Council Tax benefits are introduced, many claimants will find a significant portion of their income is now demanded as Council Tax.  Claimants already pay VAT on essentials such as fuel, sanitary products, clothes and children’s safety equipment.  With Hardship Payments to be converted to loans, claimants will now be forced to borrow to pay these taxes.  That’s right.  People with absolutely nothing, forced to borrow from the government, to pay tax.  And that, is just fucking medieval.

Poverty is Caused By The Rich Not The Poor

The Post Office is so crowded that the queue reaches out of the door.  All ages and all races stand patiently to await their turn with the harangued but always polite counter staff.  A couple of kids run in and out of the queue, playing harmlessly and drawing affectionate smiles from those waiting.

One man is holding up the queue, arguing furiously and desperately at the window.  His benefits haven’t arrived.  The clerk tries to explain patiently that it isn’t the Post Office’s fault, but he is more concerned with how he will eat that day.  Another older man, with his head half shaved, starts to emit a low tuneful moaning, as if praying to some imagined God.  As he grows progressively louder the prickles of annoyance can be felt amongst those around him.  This is not a place where people are afraid to speak up.  However since he is obviously not very well, his strange singing goes without comment.  There is a strong tolerance here amongst those of us who really are all in it together.

I’m relieved to see a smartly dressed woman, obviously on her lunch break, withdrawing six pounds in cash and then quickly leaving.  I’m glad I’m not the only one who has too little in the bank to use the cash point.  There is a strange kind of shame in standing in a queue for twenty minutes to take out the last couple of pounds in the bank.  It is relieved a little by not being the only one in that position.  The clerk doesn’t even raise an eyebrow as I ask for my three pounds.  I suppose it’s not uncommon.

In the supermarket immaculate young mums, more stylish in Primark and budget cosmetics than those from the leafy suburbs, push around Argos buggies as they check the price of every item of value food.  One woman is singing softly to her giggling toddler.  Almost everyone who passes them smiles at the happy little girl.  People chat at the check out.  There is no division between those serving and those being served.  The rain is a widespread source of disappointment.  That and the ever increasing prices.

The Big Issue seller, soaking wet as he is, wishes everyone a nice day as they leave the store.  Occasionally someone, who obviously doesn’t have much themselves, buys a copy.  Almost everyone returns his greeting.  Some people stop to stroke his dog.

Outside the charity shop are several bags of old clothes, left in the rain, which the store have so far failed to notice.  Already a small number of people cautiously begin examining the bags.  No-one pays them any heed as they sift through the now sodden clothing.

The Pound Shop is packed with people buying everything from boxes of cereal to  cheap shampoo.  I spot a toy I think my son might like, but on closer inspection, realise it would break like almost everything else they sell.  The shoppers in here are resourceful, examining every item in detail.  Some people in the queue have baskets piled high, others stand in line to purchase just a pack of baby wipes or box of cheap washing powder.

Just six months ago this soulless shop full of plastic tat was an indoor market.  The Council closed it quickly and ruthlessly, giving the stall holders barely any notice that their livelihoods were about to be destroyed.  Another piece of the community wrenched away to be replaced by corporate poverty pimps, staffing their shops with workfare and minimum wage casual jobs.

There’s a small crowd outside the Jobcentre, smoking and sharing cigarettes.  “There’s never any fucking jobs in there” says one disgruntled youth to his friend as he leaves.

Further down the road a young black boy has been stopped by police.  He barely looks sixteen.  He is obviously irritated, but stays calm.  I hang around outside the caf’, watching.  I’m not the only one.  People keep an eye on the police round here.  Everyone knows what they are like.

The pair of coppers is eventually joined by a van containing several more.  They don surgical gloves as they prepare to search the young boy in full view of the busy street.  He seems resigned to this.  It has no doubt happened many times before.  The boy stands defiantly as the men in uniform rifle his pockets and stick their hands down his trousers.  They find nothing.  He is sent on his way and the police fade away, laughing and joking amongst themselves.

I buy a cup of tea from the caf’, and sit outside to smoke even though it’s too cold really.  I’m so joined by two men, probably in their early fifties.   We talk about the football.  England managed a draw with France in the opening match of the European Cup.  This is roundly seen to be a good result, although there is no optimism about the tournament.  One of the guys starts winding up the Turkish Cafe owner who had been predicting a 3-1 victory to France.  The banter is good-natured, as the cafe owner concedes he lost a bet at the bookies on the result.  No-one mentions the Olympics, the Jubilee, or any of that crap.

One of the men leaves, with a bulging bag of clothes.  “I’ll get this started shall I?”, he says to the other.  I realise he is heading to the launderette next door and that they are sharing the machine.  At three and a half quid a time that makes a lot of sense.

There are problems around here for sure.  The main one being no-one’s got any money.There are a residual group of street drinkers, who look battered and twice the age they probably are.  No-one envies them.  Some of the kids round here can be a nightmare.  There is nowhere for them to go.  And there are villains, neglectful parents, drugs users and drug dealers, just like any corner of the UK.

But they are the minority.  There are few parents round here who would leave their eight year old child in the pub, forgotten in the haze of drink.  The drugs round here are no different to the ones that this country’s Prime Minister nearly got expelled for taking in the privileged corridors of Eton.  Unlike the Bullingdon boys of Oxford University, the vandal youth pay for their crimes with Community Service and prison, not platinum credit cards.

But there is more humanity and tolerance in this small part of London than the millionaires in Government could ever understand.  People with nothing look out for each other, speak to each other, care for each other and help each other in ways the grasping businessmen who sneer at the poor would consider completely alien.  Selfishness and greed are not virtues here.  Yet these are the people that odious government ministers blame for their own poverty, ignoring the fact that the thieves in the city have stolen the entire world.  Whether working for a pittance, or unemployed, whether single parents, disabled, unwell, or with poor mental health, people round here, and in thousands of other deprived areas of the country, survive despite the onslaught against the poor.

There is little round here that couldn’t be improved with more money.  The opposite is happening as libraries close, rents soar, wages stagnate and benefits are cut.  The very poorest pay everyday for the crimes of the rich.  Those who are in debt owe money to legal loan sharks, like the spiv who recently wrote a report advising the Government to make it easier to sack people.

The stream of lies that come from government – that the poor are poor because they are feckless or lazy – just reveals the cossetted world they were brought up in.  Their view of the very poorest is driven by poverty porn television shows or right wing tabloid newspapers rather than any direct experience of the people they would no doubt step over in the street.  They cut and cut and drive people further into homelessness, poverty and despair, but still we survive.

The poor are poor because the rich take more and more.  Greedy landlords push up rents whilst greedy bosses force down wages.   Unemployment and workfare is used to undermine the few improvements people have fought for.  Land is sold off to build yuppy flats no-one round here can afford, and supermarkets strangle the few remaining locally owned shops.  Whilst pensioners freeze in their homes and worry about surviving the winter, energy company bosses and hedge fund managers fly around in private jets paid for by profit stolen from those with almost nothing.  Sick and disabled people, many of whom may have worked hard for years, see benefits they were promised and had paid for, slashed to fund tax cuts for millionaires.  It was bankers, not benefit claimants, who broke the economy.

The ferocity of our children’s anger, as flawed and often tragic as it was, has already been displayed.  That rage is not confined to just the young.  Every pale faced shyster in Saville Row suit who lectures us about our lives from their suburban mansions only fuels the fire.  As the hundreds of thousands with nothing left to lose turn into millions, that rage may yet come to the front doors of the pampered elite.  One day we will take this world back.

Half A Million Children Condemned To Poverty At A Stroke

Almost half a million children have been condemned to lives of desperate poverty with a stroke of George Osborne’s pen.  Figures released yesterday reveal that 450,000 children are to be affected by changes to Working Tax Credits, which will see part time workers stripped of vital benefits.

Families have lost up to £73 a week due to changes, which came into force at the beginning of April, and mean that people working under 24 hours a week are no longer entitled to Working Tax Credit.  Around 200,000 families could find themselves better off on benefits due to the changes, the precise opposite of Iain Duncan Smith’s lie that the Tories will make work pay.

The deluded toffs have claimed that hard working parents should simply ask for more hours to ensure they keep the benefit.  Only people who have never had a proper job could think that workers can simply demand more hours if they need more cash and bosses will be only too happy to comply.  The latest Government figures show that only around 5% of families have been able to increase their hours to satisfy the new conditions for Working Tax Credit.

Time and time again out of touch millionaires tell us we need to work harder to stay out of poverty, as if soaring unemployment and the record rise in part time workers is down to laziness on the part of workforce.  Sick and disabled people are told to simply get a job by lying ministers who pretend there’s no discrimination in the work place and jobs are falling out of the sky.  Sacked Remploy workers are lectured on the need to re-integrate into the mainstream workforce, a noble aim, yet there seems to be no rush by employers to recruit disabled workers.  People on the dole are being forced to work for free, yet there is little chance even this will help them find work.

It’s hardly surprising that clowns like Boris Johnson and David Cameron are so out of touch.  Boris Johnson claims the quarter of a million a year he earns for his shit column in the Telegraph is chicken feed for a task he knocks out on a Sunday morning.  David Cameron probably wouldn’t even notice if his income was cut by £73 a week.  Yet these arrogant posh boys give themselves tax cuts whilst the rest of the country is forced into hunger and homelessness.

Boris is around £16,000 a year better off due to Osborne’s tax give away.  That’s over 200 times more than the amount being cut from the weekly incomes of the country’s poorest families.  And it’s not just Working Tax Credit.  Many families will already be struggling with the cuts to Housing Benefits, sickness benefits and Educational Maintenance Allowance, along with soaring food prices, fares and utility bills.

The Government of privileged little rich boys are unleashing poverty on millions of families on a scale that is unprecedented in modern history in the UK.  They claim to be cutting the debt our children will be forced to pay off, yet they are doing it by taking food from their bellies now.  And still the debt rises as austerity pushes us into the longest recession since the 1930s.

David Cameron will never know the stark cold terror of realising you don’t have enough money left to feed the kids.  He will never experience the panic of the pre-pay electricity metre plunging your home into darkness unexpectedly.  He can’t know what it’s like to be forced to visit foodbanks, or to wander round the supermarket wondering if you dare steal anything just to put food on the table.

Yet for millions of people this is the reality of everyday life and still these toffs want to take more from us.  Will they not be happy until our children are begging on the streets for food?

The Government is doing the exact opposite of securing the UK’s future by creating this social time bomb.  Millions of children growing up with nothing will enter adulthood feeling they have nothing to lose.  Shanty towns could emerge as tens of thousands of people lose their homes over the next two years.  Crime will soar and even more pensioners will die alone, unable to keep the heating on.  Riots like those seen last Summer could become an annual event.

Working Tax Credit has been a sticking plaster for the shamefully low wages billionaire bosses pay their workers.  Housing Benefit is a subsidy to landlords so eager to profit from the decimation of social housing in the UK.  Meagre benefits end up in the pockets of Tesco share holders or energy company bosses.  The vast bulk of the Welfare State not only subsidises the rich but protects them from being murdered in their beds.  The last time social inequality was so out of control Europe was plunged into a state of near revolution.  Only nationalist wars could protect the ruling class.

Nationalism isn’t so fashionable these days.  David Cameron’s class war may yet come to look more like civil war.  The effete little posh boys in Parliament won’t look quite so fucking cocksure when their mansions burn.

The War on the Poor

If you take a walk down Oxford Street, or any other busy Central London street, take a look at the pavement and you will notice an unusual shortage of discarded cigarette ends.  This has nothing to do with any conscientious street cleaning by Westminster Council, and is certainly not because West End shoppers are particularly conscious of littering.

The reason is that there is an army of urban scavengers patrolling the streets hunting for cigarette ends so they can squeeze the last little scraps of tobacco into a Rizla.  You need three or four fag butts generally to get anything approaching a reasonable smoke, and even then it’s likely to make your throat sore with it’s harshness.  Lots of people store it up in a tin, or empty tobacco packet.  It’s dry, flaky and smells predictably of ashtrays.  The smoking ban has meant the prime spots are outside pubs.  Bus stops are other good places to look.  Some people even chuck away a cigarette half finished should a bus turn up.  Posh bastards.

This all creates a good argument for stopping the habit most people picked up in childhood.  But stopping smoking is hard.  No anti-smoking initiative recommends sleeping under a railway bridge, in a night shelter, or living on economy beans and toast in a freezing cold bedsit, as an aid to quitting the habit.

Few people understand the complexities of a pre-pay electricity or gas meter.  The last pound can disappear in a flash or last all day.  Turning off everything that might conceivably use a flicker of power usually seems to help.  Sometimes it doesn’t though.  It can even seem to just disappear overnight, as if someone had broken into your home and turned the oven on for a couple of hours just to fuck with you.  If you owe the power companies money they will deduct an amount from your meter weekly.  This just adds to the confusion, especially as many people live off the five pounds emergency credit, whereby the electricity companies generously allow you to go a fiver into debt.

The worst case scenario is the power going off whilst you’ve been out all day, especially if the shops are closed.  If you are lucky enough to have a freezer, then you may be familiar with the concept of an emergency food stash.  A selection of frozen food, usually in blue and white packaging, that is there for when the money’s really run out.  That can all be lost in a day if you mis-time the meter.

Kids don’t really understand what it means if the power runs out.  They find out quickly enough when they can’t watch telly or start to feel the cold.  If you’re fortunate and have credit on your mobile you may be able to phone a friend who can lend you a tenner for a day or two.  You borrow it, knowing you will struggle to pay it back, but a tenner in the hand the day before a benefit payment is worth several the day after.  This is something the increasing number of pay day lenders and loan sharks know only too well.

Economy nappies are low level child abuse.  They leak and cause dreadful rashes.  But the temptation of 20 nappies for two quid can be hard to resist, especially if two quid is all you’ve got.  Value washing up liquid seems to be made of other people’s washing up water.  It’s not really possible to tell whether economy washing powder actually washes clothes any better than rinsing them in hot water would.    Some blue and white food is pretty much as good as the real stuff, but some of it is verging on inedible.  Tesco economy teabags leave a sinister grey sludge in the bottom of the cup.  The baked beans are mostly water.  The biscuits can be alright, and provide a useful if edgy energy hit if you’re feeling hungry enough.  You can only really find out by experience, much like you get to know what can be safely bought from a poundshop and what will break the first time you try and use it.

People develop strategies for living on desperately low incomes.  Like squirrels, you learn to use the good times to stock up on reserves.  You quickly get to know what’s cheaper from the market (fruit and veg always is), what’s cheaper in the supermarket and what you can pick up in the likes of Lidl, Poundstretcher or Aldi.  Sometimes it feels like you’re constantly doing arithmetic as you keep a running track of costs down to the last penny, knowing one slight miscalculation can fuck up your, or your kids’ dinner.   And if you have responsibility for kids, this is a mindset you need to develop fast.

Good friends and family can help get you through the worst times.  Sitting at home skint alone is far more depressing than sitting with a skint friend. It also means resources can be pooled.  One of the reasons for the popularity of the squatting movement amongst young benefit claimants is that company and a strong community can make poverty far more bearable.  A few shared bottles of cheap cider with friends and a skipped vegetable curry is not the worst way to spend an evening.  Hence the endless stream of middle class tourists who pass through the squatting scene (always safe in the knowledge of course, that it isn’t for life).

But for the vast majority of people, poverty is an increasingly isolating experience.  Pubs, once the bedrock of poor communities, are unaffordable for those with very little.  A small round could be more than your food budget for the week.  Community Centres, Youth Clubs and Sure Start Centres have closed, are closing, or are stripping back services.  Libraries are disappearing, the one place where you can actually get warm for free.  No-one can afford the football anymore.  Punitive bus and train fares mean it can be difficult or even impossible to visit loved ones.  The Government is now pursuing policies which will force people from their homes into areas where they might know no-one.  And of course they are coming for the squatters, the travellers and any other community who have banded together to resist economic squalor.

When people say there is no ‘real’ poverty in the UK they usually mean there is no famine.  They point to the refugee camps of Somalia as if it is only when thousands of children are dying of hunger that we should take economic inequality seriously.  They claim people can’t be poor because they use drugs, drink or have mobile phone, as if these things don’t exist in poor countries, or that Afghanistan doesn’t have one of the biggest heroin problems in the world.

Children may not die of starvation in the UK but they do go hungry.  Tens of thousands of people are homeless, if not yet on the streets as an increasing number are, then in grim hostels or B&Bs.  Some families share a space little bigger than a modest double bedroom with their children.  Even people who have gained access to social housing can be blighted by mould, damp and cramped or cold living conditions.  One estate in Hackney had a river of sewage running through it for months before the Council bothered to do anything about it.  Elderly people die because they can’t afford their heating bills.  Sometimes no-one even notices until someone complains about the smell.

Many people who are poor cannot escape some level of criminality.  Whether buying duty free tobacco, working a few hours on the side, shoplifting, fare dodging, not paying for the telly licence, or even begging, sex work, or low level drug dealing, few people who are very poor manage to stay within the law all the time.  The very poorest are criminalised just for trying to survive.   Even the law abiding young see the police not as protecters, but as bullies, murderers and gangsters in uniform.

The imagined life of plasma tellys and Easyjet holidays are a world away from the reality of life on benefits or a low income in the UK.   Even people who have got a posh telly probably bought it from a high street loan shark like Bright House.  They will be paying for it out of their food budget for the rest of their lives and for long after they’ve flogged it to Cash Converters to get the heating back on.

This is a side of the UK lots of people don’t ever really see and many people would rather pretend didn’t exist.  Yet still this Government wants more from the people with the very least.  Sick and disabled people must waste their time attending back to work training, when no-one will give them a job anyway.  Single parents are jailed for not being able to afford a television licence.  Older private tenants who may have lived in an area for fifty years are now being forced to relocate, not just from the area they live, but the entire city.

The few remaining things we still have are being stripped away.  The cuts to EMA and student fees mean that even fewer individuals are likely to be able to escape.  The NHS is being eroded and downgraded.  Social Housing rents are set to soar whilst private sector rents become unaffordable for anyone on benefits.  Homelessness, hopelessness, poverty and desperation is becoming the daily norm for vast swathes of the population.  The Welfare State is gradually being abolished and people in the poorest possible conditions are sent to work for the rich for no pay and no lunch.  The last few institutions society provided for the destitute are disappearing and the charities that pretend to help merely see the poor as a commodity they can exploit to fleece Government contracts.

Wage freezes, benefit cuts, unemployment and rent rises are essential say the Government, pledging that we’re all in it together.  Yet they spend more on lunch than some families spend on food in a week.  Taking a walk around some parts of London, there seems to be no shortage of cash.  Money sings from the gleaming walls of every luxury apartment complex whilst hugely expensive boutiques and gastropubs replace greasy spoons and well loved local boozers.

Politicians tell us that benefit cuts are good for us.  Government ministers say disabled people lead ‘wasted lives’ and need to be helped by being stripped of benefits or forced to undergo demeaning health tests.  Forced labour is repackaged as training schemes, essential to help young people get used to a life of poverty and hard work.  Single mums are bullied if they don’t take low paid work, and financially penalised if they do.  Vocational education for working class jobs is stripped of value by the same old Etonians who accuse us of snobbery if we don’t want to stack shelves in supermarkets for no pay.  And when our children riot the liberal media sneer at them for wanting trainers costing a fraction of the price of the shoes they wear themselves.

Shows like The Apprentice preach greed, aggression and selfishness as the only ways to get ahead.  The more vicious you can be to your fellow human being, all the better for whichever cunt is profiting from your inhumanity.  The rich behave with complete moral bankruptcy yet a disabled person playing golf is seen as an unimaginable evil and splashed across the newspapers along with rapists and murderers.

The kids may well be too savvy to riot as hundreds of gun toting police protect the sacred Olympics.  But riot again they will.  Increasingly people with nothing to lose are saying enough is enough. There is nothing left to do for the very poorest but fight back by any means necessary now.  Capitalism run rampant has created this society, and those who have benefited so handsomely may yet come to regret the vicious world they’ve built.

(This post was mostly inspired by finding out I hadn’t got a tenner in the bank like I thought I had this morning)

Disabled People Welfare Group occupy DWP Head Office

News just in:

ACTION: Disabled Campaigners are planning to protest against the DWP (Adelphi House, 1 to 10 John Adams Street, WC2) at lunchtime today (17th April). We will be delivering the attached letter for James Purnell (Work and Pensions Secretary) and will be requesting a meeting with him.

WE ARE SICK OF: Politicians who attack minorities – perceived as easy targets – for public spending cuts.

THE GOVERNMENT SAYS: Do as we say, or risk losing benefits.
OUR RESPONSE: We call on all Disabled Claimants to defend their needs, and DWP Staff / Trade Unions not to cooperate with this harassment of Disabled People.

THE GOVERNMENT SAYS: They want to re-test all claims for IB (Incapacity Benefit).
OUR RESPONSE: Claimants are already regularly tested in relation to their claims through questionnaires and physical assessments by Benefits Agencies/Medical Services.

THE GOVERNMENT SAYS: Replace “Sick-Notes” with “Well-Notes”.
OUR RESPONSE: This cynical exercise won’t halt discrimination against Disabled People in the work place, or increase our chances of employment. It will however, force more Disabled People into poverty.

PRESS CONTACTS:
DAN Press Officer for this Action:
Mike Higgins (0114 225 8676 / danpress@blueyonder.co.uk)

The war on the poor is hotting up and it’s good to see that people are starting to take action