Poverty is a word I have used often and although I had a rough idea of what it means I was clueless to the explanation of my dictionary. To my surprise it simply said ‘being poor’. I wondered how you measured being poor and this got me started on poverty.
No matter how it’s measured. Poverty is a major issue facing the UK in 2013. 20,000 children will go hungry this Christmas (triple what it was last year) and 80,000 will be without a home. Half a million Brits depend on food banks to eat. It is estimated by the Joseph Row tree Foundation that 13 million Britons live in poverty, over 3 million being children or the elderly. The NBC estimates that a quarter of children live in poverty and The IFS estimates that within the next 2 years 600,000 more children will be forced into poverty. Not only is poverty widespread it is rampant!
Why is poverty increasing?
Half of people in poverty are also in work; this demonstrates that the minimum wage is not enough to live on, that part time work and zero hour contracts do not fit the bill. This is allowed because of the sheer lack of unionisation amongst workers. This is what has led to the plummet in standards. Further to this there is not enough skilled work. Places like Ashington (which was once the centre of coal mining) are now desolate and the majority of jobs are low skilled low paid. The other half of people living in poverty are in poverty because of welfare reforms such as the bedroom tax and the benefits cap, both introduced earlier this year. These cuts have devastated the lives of thousands, even causing one woman to commit suicide.
What is to be done?
Re-organisation of workers into Trade Unions is a necessity. As well as this steps must be taken to ensure that skilled work is created. I don’t mean re-opening the pits but instead we should move with the times. Scotland has 25% of Europe’s renewable potential yet it is hardly utilised. Partly because the British right fear clean sustainable energy and as Scotland is not yet in control of those decisions there has been almost no investment. Investment that is crucial to building a stronger economy. Having state owned wind farms and hydro-electric stations would create much wealth, jobs and prosperity that could be enjoyed by everyone. Jobs would be created in research, manufacturing, logistics, installation and maintenance. This would create wealth which could be spent on housing, Schools, hospitals, regeneration programs and Libraries. Yet under the current capatalist system none of this is possible.