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Poorest And Most Vunerable The Hardest Hit : Especially Those NOT Able To Work !!! Half Of The 8.4 Million Carer Army ? - Page 2 - Carers UK Forum

Poorest And Most Vunerable The Hardest Hit : Especially Those NOT Able To Work !!! Half Of The 8.4 Million Carer Army ?

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
216 posts
I have used that term for close on 12 years , most notably on CarerWatch , which was a more pro active forum that this one will ever be.

Only in the past year or so have others tended to agree ... as opposed to being ridiculed as in the past.

The preservation of power and wealth at the expense of those who have no defence , representation or opportunity to better their lives.
Frances Ryan ... today's Guardian ... that imaginary safety net I have often mentioned ... and an allusion to a social war ?

About time the media caught up with certain carers ?


https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... ilies-harm


Are we really prepared to just watch as society’s safety nets go unmended ?

Fresh social security cuts hitting 11 million families show just how much harm the state is willing to inflict on its own citizens.


When Philip Hammond said there was “light at the end of the tunnel” ahead of this week’s spring statement, it’s unlikely he was speaking about Margaret Blenman. Margaret – a foster carer from London – was found in the sea off the Brighton coast last November after she was evicted from her home because of spiralling debts caused by the bedroom tax.

The local paper, the Argus, reported this week that an inquest heard the 48-year-old had told housing officers on the day of her eviction they were “lucky not to find a dead body”, before she was pulled out of the sea two days later. The only reason Margaret had to pay the bedroom tax was because her “spare room” was empty while she waited for another foster child to sleep in it.

These cases are complex – death, particularly apparent suicide, cannot and should not be reduced to simple causes. But it’s difficult to ignore stories such as Margaret’s – and there are many – or the niggling feeling that the ties that bind us as a society are being shamelessly and coldly cut away.

Next month, a series of further “welfare” changes come into force – changes that research by the Resolution Foundation thinktank shows will amount to another £2.5bn-worth of cuts to social security, hitting around 11 million families. These come on top of existing measures such as the bedroom tax, and include freezing working-age benefits for a third year – in essence, capping the money the state provides below the rising price of rent, food, and bills. Meanwhile, the rollout of universal credit will remove £200m from the system – largely off the back of long-term sick and disabled people, and working families.

It would be easy to see this as another assault on Britain’s social security system – and in many ways it is. The same thinking that led to a foster mother being docked housing benefit for caring for vulnerable children will now see single parents skipping meals because of the benefit freeze and wheelchair users unable to pay for a carer as they switch to universal credit. But really, this goes beyond budget cuts to the “welfare” bill. It is part of a wider shift in the harm the state is willing to inflict on its citizens – and the scale of hardship that’s now being normalised in one of the wealthiest nations on earth.

This harm is not even simply being done to the usual small minority – say, the unemployed or migrants – who are traditionally abandoned by rightwing governments (althoughm yes, that is happening too). Increasingly, this harm is coming for the families the Conservatives have long claimed to be on the side of – and vast numbers of them as well.

The evidence is undeniable. Hundreds of thousands of children and pensioners are now in poverty compared with 2012, with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation finding the first sustained increases in child and pensioner poverty for 20 years. More than a million people in the UK are officially classed as destitute – that’s so poor they can’t afford to eat properly, keep clean or stay warm and dry – while the gap in life expectancy between the poorest and most advantaged females has reached a record high as of this month.

Even the comforting myths we were told to cling to – that, as Theresa May puts it, work is “the best route out of poverty” – have been blown away. Research by Cardiff University last year found a record 60% of people in poverty live in a household where someone is in work – a risk that has grown by a quarter in the last decade – as nurses finish a shift to go and queue at a local food bank in order to be able to feed themselves.

Yet ministers learn no lessons: new analysis by the Children’s Society and Child Poverty Action Group shows that once universal credit is fully rolled out, almost 300,000 low-income working parents in England will be excluded from free school meals for their children. They are “doing the right thing” and working hard, but having help pulled from under them by the government regardless.

Much like work being a get-out clause to poverty, there’s a longstanding myth that our individual fortunes are of our own making – that when we do well it is solely off our own initiative, and when others suffer it is because they have somehow failed to try hard enough. But, of course, we are each of us connected – to our families, teachers, strangers and the government too. It was notable that, as the Resolution Foundation warned this week that families face a vast fall in living standards in the coming years, it made a point of stating that some of this “is the direct result of government policy”.

And this week research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into the impact of tax and benefit policies since 2012 laid bare the consequences of political decisions: an extra 1.5 million children in poverty by 2021 (hitting ethnic minority families hardest), and with disabled households losing as much as £6,500 a year.

Poverty – and the illness or death that comes with it – is not the failure of one government or even one political party, yet it is hard to shake the sense that in recent years something is changing. The vague promise Hammond gave this week to increase public spending “in the years ahead” is reflective of a growing mindset that protecting society’s safety net is optional – something that can be abandoned for a decade without millions feeling the consequences. It’s as if we are sleepwalking towards a loss the scale of which it may be hard to grasp until it’s too late. Margaret, washed up and discarded on the coast, should not only be a mark of shame but a warning to us all.



No bad ... for someone earning 10 / 20 times what an average family carer does ?

Enough in the COMMENTS section at the end for another 'alf dozen threads ?

Still , what we all know at street level ... CarerLand ... has to be expressed in " Academic " jargon to appease the general public ?

No solution offered ... probably just tinkering with the present Status Quo ... that's where academics and suits are of no further use to us in CarerLand.

Meanwhile , on the front line , check those tin hats , and depth of the trenches !!!
Further evidence of the actual costs many of our carees and independent disabled face :


https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... study-says

Disabled people struggle to afford food and heating, study says.

Charity says quarter of disabled adults have less than £50 a week left after tax and housing costs.


Disabled people are being forced to skip meals and sit in cold homes in a climate of benefit and social care cuts, according to new research.

Analysis by ComRes on behalf of the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity shows almost a quarter of disabled adults aged 18-65 in the UK missed at least one meal in the last year, while a fifth said they were not able to keep their home warm.

Previous studies of disabled people by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the charity Scope show a considerably higher rate of deprivation than in the general population; in 2017, less than 8% of non-disabled people were in food poverty while those without disabilities have to spend half as much on energy bills as people with health conditions.

The Leonard Cheshire research into the human cost of cuts to services and financial support for disabled people paints a bleak picture of families struggling to cope. More than one in four (27%) working age disabled adults reported having less than £50 to spend each week after deducting income tax, council tax and housing costs.

The financial situation is compounded by a growing social care crisis, with more than half (55%) of disabled people of working age saying they did not receive the vital support they needed in 2017. This suggests deteriorating social care for disabled people, with comparable research released by the charity in 2016 finding 48% of respondents were without social care.

The findings follow a recent report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission that found disabled people had disproportionately borne the brunt of tax and welfare changes since 2010, with disabled families facing an annual income loss of up to £10,000.

Leonard Cheshire said their latest research shows the impact has been “catastrophic” with essential heating, food or travel often becoming unaffordable.

Neil Heslop, the CEO of Leonard Cheshire, said: “Our research lays bare the appalling situation many disabled individuals and families find themselves in. Every day, thousands of people are teetering on the financial brink, unsupported and isolated. When high quality social care is provided, it has the power to transform lives. It can empower disabled people to live, learn and work as they choose.”

Absence of any social care, or inadequate support, also left more than half (54%) of those who need it feeling isolated and lonely, according to the latest research. Meanwhile 53% said the lack of help had a negative impact on their mental health.

A government spokesperson said: “We know that people often face additional costs as a result of their disability, which is why we’re spending more than ever before to support disabled people and those with health conditions. We introduced PIP to replace the old system, and now 29% of people receive the highest rate of support, compared to 15% under DLA.

“We expect disabled adults with care needs to receive high-quality support. We know the social care system is under pressure, which is why we provided an extra £2bn funding and a further £150m for this year. We will shortly outline plans to reform social care, ensuring it is sustainable for the future.”


Yet another article that dovetails into others ... Housing and Foodbanks both spring to mind.

The Social War ... through Austerity ... continues , unabated.
To eat or to heat ?

A phrase now synonymous with survival in today's Sad New World :


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43827846


Poorest families going without food or power.



A little strong but ... it wasn't me writing the article !

Hundreds of thousands of the poorest families in Britain are going without basic necessities, according to two separate surveys.

Citizens Advice said as many as 140,000 households are going without power, as they cannot afford to top up their prepayment meters.

And the Living Wage Foundation - which campaigns for fair pay - said many of the poorest parents are skipping meals.

However the government said workers are now earning more, and paying less tax.

The survey conducted by Citizens Advice suggests that most households that cannot afford to put money in the meter contain either children or someone with a long-term health condition.

Some people are left in cold houses, or without hot water.

"It is unacceptable that so many vulnerable households are being left without heat and light," said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.

"For some people self-disconnection is easily managed, but for many others it is an extremely stressful experience that can have harmful physical and emotional effects."

" Depressed and anxious "

One man who lives alone in a council property told Citizens Advice of his predicament.

"That's really stressful if you run out of electric," he said.

"Imagine, if you put yourself in your home and you've got no electric and you've got no gas so you've got no heating.

"You've got no entertainment, there's nothing to do. You're just sitting there waiting for the next day to come or until you can contact somebody.

"You feel depressed, you feel anxious, feel annoyed - all sorts of emotions."

Cost of living


A separate survey for the Living Wage Foundation suggests a third of working parents on low incomes have regularly gone without meals, because of a lack of money.

Around a half of those families have also fallen behind with household bills.

"These findings reveal the desperate choices low paid families have to make, and show why it's so important that more employers take a stand by paying the real Living Wage, based on what they need to live, not just the government minimum," said Tess Lanning, director of the Living Wage Foundation.

The unofficial living wage suggested by the foundation is £8.75 an hour, or £10.20 an hour in London.

More than 4,000 employers offer this living wage, which is designed to reflect the real cost of living.

The National Living Wage, which was introduced by the government, is the legal minimum paid to workers over the age of 25. On 1 April the rate went up to £7.83 an hour.

Earnings

The government has insisted that it is helping working families.

As a result of increasing the amount people can earn before paying income tax, it says typical tax payers are paying £1,000 less in income tax than they did eight years ago.

It said workers are also earning more in the first place.

"This is why we have increased the National Living Wage this month, so that the lowest-paid can earn an extra £600 a year," financial secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, said this week.

Nevertheless Citizens Advice wants the government and energy suppliers to do more to protect vulnerable households.



Not one of the better articles published but it will suffice as I trawl through this morning web editions of the national press.

Perhaps a living relative of William Shakespear might launch a legal case of plagiarism ... a modern day parody of " To be or not to be ? "

Especially if the private sector launch a new range of clothing with a face similar to Willi's , with the slogan " To eat or to heat " as if it were a fashion statement ???
A little more on the visible aspect of present day poverty ... from teachers :

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2 ... ld-poverty

Food, clothes, a mattress and three funerals.

What teachers buy for children.


In 2014 Gemma Morton, the headteacher of a large secondary school, told Education Guardian her school had helped to pay for the funeral of a student whose family couldn’t afford it, even after they had sold their car. Three years on, she has helped to pay for two more funerals. “When a child dies, nobody’s saved for it,” says Morton. “There is literally nowhere for families to go apart from the people they already know, and most of them are poverty-struck too.”

Over the past few years, as austerity has deepened, more schools and individual teachers are bailing out disadvantaged families because they simply can’t say no. The latest government figures show 100,000 more children propelled into poverty in just 12 months. There are 4.1 million children – nearly a third of the entire child population – living in households on less than 60% of the average income.

At Gill Williams’s primary school in the north-west of England, local supermarkets deliver bread and fresh vegetables three times a week, which are placed in the playground for parents to help themselves. There is rarely a crumb left.

Williams says it is not so much that poverty is more severe, but that it has spread. “It’s everybody. Your average family is like that now.” The core group of those needing support in her school is three times larger than when she became a head 10 years ago.

Evidence of hungry children is clear, say teachers. “You notice kids borrowing money from friends to buy food, kids falling asleep, kids saying they’ve got a tummy ache, and they didn’t have breakfast because Mummy didn’t have anything in,” says Morton. She has also seen children taking scraps from the school bins.

Heads in poor catchments notice a difference when they attend meetings at other schools. “If you go and see kids in two different areas, they’ll be noticeably different heights,” says Morton.

Georgia Easton, a secondary teacher, always carries a few pounds in her pocket for children who have “forgotten” their dinner money. “It’s heartbreaking,” she says. “Kids saying ‘I had one slice of toast for tea.’” She estimates she spends about £10 a week of her own money on food and other shopping for needy pupils. That’s £380 per year. Gemma Kay, a food science teacher, spends much the same. “You hear kids talking about how in the holidays their parents are going to the food bank because they relied on free school meals in the week. It’s just very sad,” she says. “With changes to benefits, you’d know parents were on less money.”

David Penrose, chief executive of a group of schools in the Midlands, says: “In the last seven years it’s got progressively worse as the financial climate has bitten, especially in areas of deprivation.” Explaining why he doesn’t want to use his real name – “I don’t want to embarrass or shame my community because it’s not fair and it’s not their fault,” – he cites schools buying shoes, socks and underwear, and also non-uniform clothes for students “so they could feel ‘normal’ at a weekend – because all they have is uniform – or so they can go on a school trip”.

Williams asked her leadership team to compile a list of the school’s recent expenditure on personal items for students and their families. It included school shoes, bus passes, uniform when the pupil welfare department said a child didn’t meet their criteria; a pregnancy test for a mother who arrived at school in turmoil; an entire food shop after a home visit when it was apparent there was nothing to eat in the house; a mattress for a child sleeping on a sofa; and a bedroom carpet when social services said bare floorboards were acceptable.

Her school has put aside a sliver of budget, known as the social inclusion fund, for crisis situations, which has to be repaid. The fund has helped to guarantee a child’s physical safety during a criminal trial, when the family felt in danger: Williams paid for a week’s rental on a caravan out of the area.

She also used the fund to install a safety gate in a family’s house after first trying and failing to fit it herself. “The children were unsafe without one and I couldn’t leave them another night in the space.”

She observes pointedly that the local authority was unable to help. Thresholds of need for support by social services departments have increased and emergency grant and loan funds have been cut.

“There was mum with two teenage boys who’d been made homeless and put into one room,” says Easton. “I took them to Asda and got new shirts, trousers and shoes. It came out of staff pockets because much as school wanted to pay, it couldn’t.”

As financial systems become more accountable, Easton observes, teachers can no longer “just go to the petty cash: you go to the supermarket and it’s £15 so you just do it. And kids say where’s the money coming from, and well, it’s coming out of my wallet isn’t it? Where else is it coming from?”

Morton points out that staff using their own money is not without potential problems. “I’ve had to tell off a member of staff for getting pizzas delivered to school. His intentions were wholly honourable, but it could have been seen as grooming,” she says.

There is no doubt in the minds of those who spoke to Education Guardian that poverty is affecting children’s education. “You will go through so many behaviour barriers before you’ll get to the real truth,” says Penrose. “It’s unbelievably embarrassing for that child.”

Kay, who often provides sanitary items, says: “I’ve known students who wouldn’t come to school if they were on [their period].”

She says the school where she taught until last year didn’t celebrate World Book Day because it was obvious families couldn’t afford costumes. She and Penrose both observe that in schools in deprived areas they’ve worked at, attendance goes down on occasions such as Children in Need because families can’t afford a contribution.

In an average secondary school, Penrose estimates, 30% more families struggle to provide clothes and food than was the case seven years ago. “Kids don’t even remember ‘before’, because they’ve never known it,” he says. And a recent analysis by the Equality and Human Rights Commission shows that a million and a half more children will sink below the poverty line by 2021 thanks to benefit changes.

“When parents come in and say ‘can you help’ they never imagine that they’re asking us personally,” says Easton. “They want the best for their children and they can’t provide it. As teachers, I think we’ve just accepted it. We do this job because we care, and if we have to put our hand in our pocket, then so be it.”



As I take advantage of my new " Twirly " card , it is clearly visible just by looking out of the bus window ... no matter , the direction ... north / south / east / west ... pockets of depravity virtually unchanged since the mid 1990s ... when the last of the major industry / local mine closed down.

2 schools in particular ... close to one another ... 4 / 5 miles east of Doncaster ... fairly new ( Built with PFI monies ? ) ... both with large containers in the playground for clothes / shoes to be donated.

The children ? Innocent victims ... and what a future they have in store for themselves IF things remain unchanged ???
I gave up using SSE for my electricity yesterday. There was a choice of two fixed tariffs. One was the Currys/PC World tariff, so you got a voucher from them. I never buy anything from them. Otherwise there was a "Love to shop" tariff! This is apparently the name of a company giving vouchers. I pointed out that both schemes relied on people having a computer, and to have a "Love to Shop" tariff, the cheapest one which would attract those will no spare money at all, was incredibly insensitive. I put in a formal complaint, and then signed up elsewhere.
At least not all journalists are away soaking up the sun ?


https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... an-in-2010

A million more UK children in poverty than in 2010 – study.

About 3.1 million children of working parents now below breadline after government’s benefit cuts, according to TUC.


The number of children growing up in poverty in working households will be a million higher than in 2010, a new study has found.

Research for the TUC estimates that 3.1 million children with working parents will be below the official breadline this year.

About 600,000 children with working parents have been pushed into poverty because of the government’s benefit cuts and public sector pay restrictions, according to the report by the consultancy Landman Economics. The east Midlands will have the biggest increase in child poverty among working families, followed by the West Midlands and Northern Ireland, the research found.

Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary, said child poverty in working households had shot up since 2010. “Years of falling incomes and benefit cuts have had a terrible human cost. Millions of parents are struggling to feed and clothe their kids,” she said.

“The government is in denial about how many working families just can’t make ends meet. We need ministers to boost the minimum wage now, and use the social security system to make sure no child grows up in a family struggling to get by.”

The report was published as a march is planned in London this Saturday calling for a new deal for workers.

The report said a household was considered to be in relative poverty if its income was less than 60% of median income after housing costs.

A government spokeswoman said it did not recognise the TUC’s figures. She said: “The reality is there are now 1 million fewer people living in absolute poverty compared with 2010, including 300,000 fewer children.

“We want every child to get the very best chances in life. We know the best route out of poverty is through work, which is why it’s really encouraging that both the employment rate and household incomes have never been higher.”


Children ... the innocent victims of the social war that has been raging for more than a decade.

This state of affairs also noted under the FOOD BANKS and UNIVERSAL CREDIT threads in previous postings , almost on a blow by blow blog.
Currently watching a two part , old , BBC documentary on the Irish Famine of 1845 - 1849.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uNMGzSL42U

One of those " Mysteries " of the past ... especially so when considering that Ireland is an island , surrounded by water ... and fish ?

There are uncanny similarities between what happened then and what is happening today.

The phrase " Arbeit macht frei " echos across from almost 170 years ago ... as does our Government's policy in letting the free market rip , and be content for the wealth to be had by the very few at the expense of the many.

Thankfully , the discrimination then has almost disappeared today ...although , in many areas , social exclusion is still common place.

Even now , in some areas of Northern ireland , adding " St. " in front of your old school's name on a cv is asking for an immediate rejection.

If one were to remove foodbanks from the equation , the outcome today would be dire ... but not on the scale of 170 years ago.

One learns quite early that history can be a great teacher.

Where did we go wrong ?
Yet another report and ... findings are even more devastating :


https://www.independent.co.uk/news/busi ... 27151.html


True financial squeeze on UK households bigger than previously thought, research suggests.

Since 2008, academics at Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University have looked at what people say they need in order to have an acceptable quality of life – the ‘minimum income standard.’


The amount of money people in the UK need to live a decent life has risen faster than the official rate of inflation over the past decade implying that the real squeeze on families has been even greater than previously recognised, according to new research.

Since 2008 academics at the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University have looked at what people say they need in order to have an acceptable quality of life, known as a “minimum income standard” (MIS).

And their work, commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, shows that, while inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index has risen by 25 per cent over that period, the MIS has increased by more than 30 per cent.


For working-age adults without children MIS costs are up 35 per cent since 2008, by 30 per cent for a couple with two children and by 50 per cent for a pensioner couple.

The researchers said that the disparity between the Consumer Price Index and the MIS measure was due to essentials such as food and transport rising faster in the latter.

The researchers also pointed out that these rising living costs implied that the effective squeeze due to benefit cuts since 2010 was even greater.

“Unless the freeze on tax credits is lifted, this squeeze is likely to continue,” said Professor Donald Hirsch, director of the Centre for Research and Social Policy.


Recent work from the Institute for Fiscal Studies had suggested that median UK incomes rose 1.6 per cent a year in the five years after 2011, which was actually quicker than in the five years after 2002.

However, even on these figures the recovery in median incomes was much slower than in the wake of the recession of the early 1980s.

Despite easing back on the departmental spending cuts previously pencilled in before the 2017 general election, Theresa May’s Government has pushed ahead with the planned welfare spending cuts, many of which will fall on low-income working families.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation wants the Universal Credit “work allowance” – the amount someone can earn before their benefits start to be withdrawn – to be made more generous to compensate.

Some working parents are actually further away from reaching a decent living standard because tax credits to top up low wages have been falling at a time when families need them most,” said Campbell Robb, the JRF’s chief executive.

“The Government must put things right by allowing families to keep more of their earnings. This would ease the constraints the crippling cost of living places on their ability to build a better life and ensure everyone can reach a decent standard of living.”


The new research suggests the minimum household budget necessary for an average couple with two young children (excluding rent and childcare) is £480 a week. For a single parent with two young children it is £490 a week. A single person is deemed to need £214 a week and a pensioner couple £302 a week.

The percentage of the MIS of a lone parent with two children covered by benefits in 2008 was 68 per cent. This year that proportion is down to 60 per cent, again reflecting benefit cuts over that period.

The MIS is used to calculate the unofficial “living wage”, used by many groups and some employers to estimate the average real cost of living.“The financial pressures created by the rising costs of childcare, transport and housing are placing a huge stress on families – and particularly the millions of people still earning less than the wage they need to make ends meet,” said Tess Lanning, director of the Living Wage Foundation.

“Tackling this issue requires more responsible employers to take a stand by committing to pay their staff the real Living Wage based on what people need to get by, not just the government minimum."

The items going into the MIS “basket”, according to researchers, have remained broadly stable over the past decade and include food, clothing, home heating and a low-cost, one-week holiday in the UK – and being able to give presents.

However, technologies such as smartphones and broadband are also now included, unlike in 2008



More akin to a school report ... special measures just around the corner ?


The new research suggests the minimum household budget necessary for an average couple with two young children (excluding rent and childcare) is £480 a week. For a single parent with two young children it is £490 a week. A single person is deemed to need £214 a week and a pensioner couple £302 a week.


I will use , say 90% , of the above figures as MINIMUM INCOME LEVELS ... an amount to define , more accruately , the " 1 In 4 " ... those close to / at / below those incomes ... IN ESSENCE , CONSIDERED TO BE IN POVERTY !!!
Yet another article worthy of inclusion under this thread.

Authoress ... Dawn Foster ... outside tip for promotion to the Premiership ... within the next 5 years ?


https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... est-tories


It’s now clear: austerity is bad for your health.

Cuts to preventive healthcare have been devastating – especially for the poorest. It feels like the Tories are waging class war


( Oh dear ... CLASS ? Make that SOCIAL ... yer textbook's out of date ! )

Most people pass through the doors of a hospital as a last resort.

By the time you reach a bed, you’ve probably made a lot of small-scale decisions that, if they didn’t cause your affliction, may have exacerbated your symptoms. We know exercise usually improves health, that smoking, drinking and eating poorly have all manner of negative fallouts, and that sleeping more and having less stress will improve our quality of life.

The majority of us don’t do what’s best for us all the time because life is complicated and busy – and creating excuses is so much easier than getting on with the business of wellbeing.

Support is vital: from families and friends, health professionals and organisations. Drug and alcohol support groups are proved to help people stay sober and clean. And yet these preventive healthcare schemes are being slashed because of council budget cuts. In Warwickshire, for instance, the public health budget has been cut by £40 a head since 2014.

At the same time, Theresa May dangles a modest £20bn increase (just 3.4%) in front of the NHS. The head of the National Audit Office, Amyas Morse, and anyone with any knowledge of the health funding crisis, points out this is simply not enough. Austerity has dealt a body blow to the NHS’s balance sheet, while at the same time worsening public health through stress, deprivation, precarity and hunger. Constantly being asked to do more with less, then having a minor funding increase trumpeted as a grand and generous gesture from Whitehall, is a slap in the face to every exhausted doctor, underpaid nurse and ancillary worker in the NHS.

Meanwhile, 1 million people are suffering the consequences of inadequate social care. These people too often end up in hospital, where the health service is expected to act as the final social and physical safety net for all society’s afflictions. Each year, poor housing costs the NHS £1.4bn – in England, a fifth of houses aren’t fit to live in yet remain occupied.

A smart society recognises the benefits of treating problems before they escalate, either through helping people quit smoking or moving them out of mould-blighted bedsits.

A compassionate society also tries to limit human misery and suffering wherever possible. Penny-pinching that leads to early deaths and preventable physical and mental anguish is a form of social psychopathy, and impossible to do without hardening hearts and treating empathy as a weakness.

Such wanton destruction of human potential is only possible because of whom it most commonly afflicts: those on low incomes. If you come from – or with – enough wealth, you can skip NHS waiting lists with private healthcare, and afford all the care you need in retirement. Stress causes many of us to reach for tangible substances in order to cope, from a glass of wine to fatty foods and stimulants. But the consumption habits of the wealthy are treated very differently to those of the poorest: the rich work hard and deserve their vices, while the poor would be better off if only they spent less on beer and Benson & Hedges.

We’ve known for years that austerity hits the poorest hardest, but the lie that this is a temporary tightening of the purse strings for a later largesse is now clear – and no more obviously than in health. There is no golden age of public spending for the working class under any form of Conservative future, only the endless pursuit of tax breaks for the comfortably-off.

The consequences of cutting money for public health now will mean far higher costs in future, and will harm people in the long term. We have the medical knowhow to prevent and treat many illnesses, but not the political will to fund integrated healthcare. Call it what it is – class war through budgeting: we already know poor people die younger, even in similar postcodes.

It seems that the progress society has made in increasing life expectancy in this country and preventing avoidable deaths is being sacrificed to save a few quid. Life expectancy has flatlined since 2011. A rise in the number of infant deaths has been attributed to poverty and smoking in pregnancy.

The poorest already have the worst health and the lowest life expectancy: now short-term cuts in preventive healthcare will further entrench our endemic class division, as well as earnings and opportunities. May’s small NHS bung doesn’t even put a sticking plaster on the harm austerity has done. But further cuts will formalise the class divide for a lifetime.


Not bad ... if one strips the usual Red Left phrases and words out ???

Still , time will tell ... perhaps the casualty count will , ultimately , do it's own telling ???
216 posts