There is a new kind of poverty in Britain. It is made by politicians, and could easily be ended by politicians. The people enduring this government-enforced poverty are not on low incomes: they have no income whatsoever. They sit in dark cold homes with no money and no food. For them, budgeting and belt-tightening would be the luxury option.
Thousands of people unable to work because of progressive conditions are being placed in a work-related activity group, even if assessors admit they are unlikely ever to recover, the UK government admitted.
When I was young, my father often used to repeat a saying his mother had told him, “To whom much is given, of them much is expected.” It was long time before I realised that this early version of “check out your privilege” was in fact quoting Jesus in the Bible (Luke 12:48), but I have never forgotten it, and I always try to live by it.
Social security sanctions, in which people not in paid work have benefit payments cut or removed for up to three years, have reached record levels. 27 Anglican bishops and other church leaders have condemned UK government benefit cuts and failures which mean that many go hungry.
Jenny (not her real name) describes herself as “a medicated production”. In preparation for our meeting, she had recourse to a morphine patch. She explained that she always tried to “dress nicely and take care with my hair and make up when I go out or meet people.”
The UK supreme court has confirmed that the government had broken the law through failing to supply adequate information about its work-or-starve schemes for jobless people. Yet, by and large, ministers are succeeding in inflicting terrible hardship on many unemployed and sick people, as Citizens Advice Bureau research reveals.