Thursday, 6 July 2017

The poor get poorer. But a Jewish story lightens the tone

In one of its more insightful headlines, the Guardian proclaimed this morning:

Low income families ‘less able to achieve decent living standard’

Classic headline
That struck me as being roughly on a par with “poverty found to leave you poor”. No wonder the headline had changed in the on-line edition by this evening...

Still, behind the headline there was a serious story. Each year, in Britain, the the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a charity concerned with poverty, commissions a study from the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University. It establishes what various types of family need in income to maintain what is generally perceived as being a minimum decent living standard.

It seems that despite increases in the minimum wage, the assault on state benefits, including those paid to the working poor, have meant that the gap between low incomes and the sum required for a minimum living standard has widened still further this year.

None of this is terribly surprising. The independent think tank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has estimated that British workers’ incomes will be no higher (in real terms) in 2022 than in 2007. We’ve had seven years of austerity politics from the Tories and the price is being paid by the poor, and it’s a real price even though it’s failed to generate any real benefit – far from achieving the aim of cutting debt, the level has doubled under the Tories.

By contrast, bosses of the major UK companies saw their earnings rise by 10% in 2015 alone. That put them on average incomes of £5.5m, which allows them to keep bankrolling the Tory Party, In turn, that helps focus minds in Tory governments on favouring the incomes of the wealthy over those of the poor.

Still, I didn’t start this post planning to make depressing points, and I seem on the brink of making some. So let me cheer you up with one of my favourite Jewish jokes.

In a sad accident, a Jew is knocked down by a car in a North London street.

A man rushes out of a nearby house and puts a pillow under the head of the injured Jew lying in the street.

“Are you comfortable?” he asks.

The Jew raises a hand and tips it from side to side in the classic gesture.

“Comfortable, I wouldn’t say,” he replies, “but I get by.”

Well, it feels to me as though the British poor have been knocked down. It certainly hasn’t left them comfortable. Though it’s far from sure they’re even getting by.


Anonymous said...

So what is the correct measure, I well remember my father who lived in the attic in a tiny house in Halifax telling me about what he considered poverty, childeren coming to school without shoes. So today we have poverty that has a flat screen tv internet connection a smart phone and not a great deal of incentive and I diet of takeaway junk food. There is something very very wrong with current values and extraordinary beliefs that simply because I am here you owe it to me, let's just become realistic. Before you have a bite back it's not a go at immigrants it's a go at scrounges I believe in a society of opportunity and reward for those who try hardest to creat opportunity and reward without any restriction, employment and wealth is our future and constant knock knock of our nation simply destroys it. Try and have a positive thought, I am sure as a total n partiotic guy in any way whatsoever you will contradict every single word. Never mind.

David Beeson said...

Every single word? No. I'll leave a few. I'll just say that George Osborne, as one of his six jobs (I believe the latest count is six), has a one day a week commitment with financial services firm Blackrock, for which he's pad £650,000 a year. That's the cost of 12 or 13 nurses for a 20% work commitment.

When we see that kind of highway robbery corrected, I'll be open to a discussion about what may be wrong at the other end of the scale...