The scandal of British poverty
I usually try to bring you bargains on a Thursday, but you just have to shop around in your own neighbourhood and get what you can. More and more people in Britain are struggling financially, because they have have been encouraged by government and the media to be irresponsible with money and live for today. Many people are still trying to put off facing up to their problems and over a million people take out those evil payday loans every year.
It’s not just the poor that are suffering, many middle class families are having a hard time because they have store cards and credit cards. The debts for British people have piled up and continue to do so. Payday loans companies and pawn brokers have invaded areas that have poor housing and education. Some charities are trying to help and food banks are opening up across the nation. The government is cutting benefits and next year many families already struggling will have their housing benefit cut, just because they have a spare room. I can see some families having another child to fill that spare room.
The spiral of debt that people get into with payday loans can be never ending, the interest rates are astronomical. Wonga charges over 2,000% APR and sees nothing wrong in that. Other people in desperate situations have turned to illegal loan sharks for loans at even higher interest rates.
Things can get so bad it causes anxiety, worry and depression. It isn’t surprising that people end up at the doctors being prescribed the latest mind altering drug. Valium is now out of favour and most doctors are prescribing anti-depressants. Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) seem popular. This of course adds to the drugs bills for the NHS and people become so bad they couldn’t work, even if there were jobs that paid more than benefits.
We have a system and a culture that is broken. I see many people who seem to have little in their lives except their children and so there is an incentive to have even more children that they can’t afford to provide for. For many women, it seems the only time they are cared for, is when they are pregnant. If they are anxious or depressed, no one cares, they should pull themselves together. Pregnancy is different though and they get help and lots of attention.
On many council estates, being from a one parent family is normal. Hostile relationships are normal, people don’t seem to know how to live together. Fifty years ago women had less equality, but far more respect. Have the feminists improved things for women on council estates? They have only improved things for the middle class women who wanted to work and prove they were as capable as men.
We need different messages sent out by the media. The BBC is publicly owned they could lead a revival in values. They could also lead a revival in education. They do some good programmes that show up rogue traders, but the days of the BBC computer are well and truly gone. I see every news reader some nights with a fake suntan, should people on council estates be copying these people and wasting their money on spray tans and false eyelashes? Does Eastenders set a good example for people? We do need to highlight the problems that ordinary people have and through fiction help them cope with them. But the days when Emmerdale Farm was about true rural life has gone, now it’s taking the worst of human nature and exaggerating it.
We are going back to Victorian times, when people were ashamed to ask for help and dreaded the workhouse. Now they dread being asked to attend an assessment at the Jobcentre. Now the sick and disabled dread being assessed by Atos healthcare. The government is making people less secure and more anxious. They spread alarm and fear, hoping that people will work for minimum wages. People will work for free, I have offered to do voluntary work, but I always find a lack of enthusiasm. I think more people would do voluntary work, if the systems made them feel a little more welcome. The healthcare system could benefit a lot from people doing voluntary work, either because they are young and want to gain some experience or older and want to use their experience to benefit society.
We have to face up to what society has become and stop blaming others. People don’t choose to live on council estates, they don’t choose unemployment, they don’t choose to be on benefits, they don’t choose low pay and they don’t choose poor education. They do choose to have children and they do choose pay day loans because they are desperate; society needs to offer different choices and more opportunities.
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