This article first appeared on the Birmingham Worker website.
An article published by the Independent details the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s (JRF) findings that Britain’s record on tackling poverty has reached a turning point and is at risk of unravelling, with nearly 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners living in poverty than five years ago. (Fifth of UK population now in poverty amid worst decline for children and pensioners in decades, major report reveals by May Bulman, 4 December 2017)
The JRF’s report showed a total of 14 million people in the UK currently live in poverty – more than one in five of the population.
“The latest figures, collated by the End Child Poverty coalition through analysis of tax credit data and national trends in worklessness, estimate that child poverty in Manchester and Birmingham stands at 44 percent and 43 percent respectively. In the London borough of Tower Hamlets this number reaches 53 percent.
“When broken down into constituencies, the figures indicate that Bethnal Green and Bow in London has the highest child poverty rate at 54 percent, while in Ladywood in Birmingham 53 percent are living in poverty. Among the 20 parliamentary constituencies with the highest levels of childhood poverty, seven are in London, three in Birmingham and three in Manchester.” (Nearly half of all children in London, Birmingham and Manchester live in poverty, finds study by Mary Bulman, The Independent, 24 January 2018)
Last year Birmingham’s Labour councillors wasted more than £6m of taxpayers’ money attempting to attack the wages of local binmen – £6m that could have been spent on child services, looking after the elderly, and preventing the worst effects of poverty in Birmingham. Now they have announced plans to cut a further £53m from the budget despite increasing council tax this year.
The Birmingham Post reported Council Leader Ian Ward as saying: “We have listened and, even at a time of continuing government cuts, we are investing in the services that matter most to the people of Birmingham.”
According to the Post: “Labour bosses said they had listened on several key issues, including reducing the tax hike, freezing burial and cremation fees and not introducing charges for library book reservations.” (Birmingham council ‘storing up tax hikes’ until after elections by Neil Elkes, 13 February 2018)
It will be of little comfort for the poor and needy to know that what money wasn’t spent keeping them alive has instead been kept back for their everlasting interment.