“We are the party of enterprise….We are the party of optimism…I consider the fact that there are Foodbanks there to support people is an example of people being charitable…” Colin Clark Tory MP for Gordon.
Whilst the UK and her politicians have been engrossed in the chaos over Brexit, figures recently released are of a UK which condemns millions of its people to living in poverty.
Long term poverty in Scotland continues to increase. A shocking 17% of Scotland’s children have been living in poverty for 3 years and more – for England the rate is even higher, 20%. Across the countries that make up the United Kingdom poverty rates continue to soar.
Long Term Poverty Rates For children
- Wales: 21%
- England 20%
- Scotland: 17%
- Northern Ireland: 15%
Long Term Poverty Rates For Working Age Adults
- England: 12%
- Wales: 12%
- Scotland: 10%
- Northern Ireland: 10%
Long Term Poverty Rates For Pensioners
- England: 12%
- Wales: 10%
- Scotland: 10%
- Northern Ireland: 7%
Tory MPs in Westminster boasted this week of protecting the highest paid Scottish military personnel from paying a little bit more income tax.
For the second year running all regular military personnel who pay Scottish Income Tax, regardless of where in the world they are serving will receive payments of between £12 and £2,200 if they fall within the higher tax band rate compared to rUK.
In Scotland a progressive income tax rate helps the lower paid.
Income taxes are used to pay for services which we can all use. In Scotland the money goes into providing a myriad of benefits for the whole population regardless of income – like free prescriptions. Scotland is also using the extra money generated from the higher rates of tax for the top earners in an attempt to alleviate the worse effects of the UK’s Benefits System.
British Army Pay Scales 2018/2019
Those NOT paying the higher rates of tax in the British Army will be all ranks up to some levels at the rank of Captain. In the Royal Navy up to some levels at the rank of Lieutenant. In the Royal Air Force up to some levels at the rank of Flight Lieutenant. The Tories have given extra money to the highest ranking officers.
At the same time as Tory MPs are protecting the highest paid Scottish military personnel they are presiding over policies and a benefits system which is failing those who are struggling to keep housed and fed.
The delay in making payments through Universal Credit has resulted in people who are mostly ‘in work’ having to rely on Foodbanks for their basic needs.
It emerged this week that previous figures , shocking as they were from the Trussell Trust, were actually an under estimate of those using Foodbanks . The actual numbers are double what was previously reported – nearly half a million food parcels were distributed in Scotland last year.
“The true scale of food bank provision in Scotland is even higher than today’s combined figures reveal, as a small number of independent food banks operational in Scotland during the research period were unable to contribute data to the Independent Food Aid Network and A Menu for Change’s joint project.”
“Experts are also warning that data on food parcel distribution still only provides a partial picture of the number of people in Scotland who are struggling to feed themselves and their families; with most people choosing to use other ways of coping, like skipping meals, rather than use a food bank. Last year, figures released by the Scottish Government revealed that one in five single parents in Scotland had faced hunger.” Independent Food Aid
Poverty is not a crime. It is not the fault of anyone who finds themselves in reduced circumstances. It is the result of a system which protects the incomes of those who can most afford it by picking the pockets of those who can least afford it.
Perhaps you think it doesn’t affect you because you have a good income – a decent secure job?
How quickly a situation can change: sickness, accident, injury – and many find that a job they thought was secure was not – just look at the famous High Street stores which are no longer there. When this happens you have to fall back on the benefits system – that is what it is supposed to do – to provide you with financial support when you most need it. A safety net to catch you when you are falling down. The delays in making payments, however, means people have to rely on charitable donations from Foodbanks – and this is a welfare system those same people have been paying into through their taxes.
Running alongside a welfare system which is not fit for use are hikes in the price of housing, heating, transport and food products. According to Shelter we are in a ‘Housing Crisis’ with rising house prices and increased rents.
“Every 18 minutes a household in Scotland becomes homeless.”
Crisis UK which monitors homelessness in England reports an 8% rise in figures over the last year a 60% rise since 2012. Many of those who become homeless end up rough sleeping with 86% of them being men. 1 in 10 of those men served in the armed forces.
Scotland can develop all the caring policies it can and develop a public sector workforce that puts respect at its core but that is just tampering with the edges of an austerity agenda driven by successive UK Governments intent on protecting those on the highest incomes.
As the Brexit chaos continues its downward spiral and draws incessant media attention it successfully covers up in its wake a UK which is creating greater divisions than those of Leave and Remain and ones which will have a much longer impact on the health and wellbeing of its citizens.
The mere existence of Foodbanks in 21st Century UK is not a ‘fact’ of the charitable intentions of people – as Colin Clark MP brags but proof of a society intent on protecting those at the top of the income bracket at the expense of the health of society as a whole.
United Nations: Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
22. Social Security. We all have the right to affordable housing, medicine, education, and childcare, enough money to live on and medical help if we are ill or old.
25. Food and Shelter for All. We all have the right to a good life. Mothers and children, people who are old, unemployed or disabled, and all people have the right to be cared for.
30. No One Can Take Away Your Human Rights.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame