I was very disappointed at the way my MP Stephen Barclay dismissed the report in the Citizen (May 27), from End Child Poverty, about the number of children living below the breadline as just “left wing” and “distorted”.
The findings of this report are consistent with those of other charities such as the well-respected Joseph Rowntree Foundation, The Living Wage Foundation, The Trussell Trust and Church Action on Poverty.
The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) own figures support the report’s findings. In 2013 the DWP reported that 3.5 million children (27%) were living in poverty and the Institute for Fiscal Studies calculated that this was due to rise by 600,000 by 2016. If anything the End Child Poverty figures appear to be lower than the government ones.
The rise in poverty isn’t just about benefits, tax credits and low wages. The coalition government created a perfect storm by allowing housing associations to increase rents to 80% of private rents, cutting benefits and introducing the bedroom tax at a time when domestic fuel and food prices were at their highest.
According to the Ministry of Justice 42,000 homes were repossessed in 2014 (the highest on record), the majority of these in the social rented sector.
Although unemployment today is less than half that it was in 1983, the number unable to adequately heat their homes has nearly doubled. Generally the proportion of families lacking the basic publicly defined necessities is higher today than in 1983.
Mr Barclay cannot ignore uncomfortable truths by pretending, because an organisation is to the left of his right wing government, its report should not be taken seriously. He cannot escape the fact that a large proportion of working people are worse off today than five years ago and that poverty, by his government’s own definition, is on the rise among working families. Work should be a route out of poverty, not into it.
CHRISTIAN AID WEEK
Churches Together in March raised £2,815.61 during Christian Aid Week this year, thanks to the generosity of the people of March.
The bulk of the money came from house-to-house and church collections (£2,028.98) and street and Sainsbury’s supermarket collections on Saturday, May 16, (£569.42).
The money raised during Christian Aid Week, added to monies raised during the year from Christian Aid lunches and other events, means over £6,340.41 has been raised for Christian Aid in the past year.
A great deal of the money raised during the year has been donated to Christian Aid’s project in Burkina Faso, a country badly affected by drought in 2010, leaving millions of people seriously short of food.
This project is supported by the European Union which gives another £5 for every £1 we raise.
In the Fenland area money raised by the March and Wisbech Christian Aid Groups, with the EU contribution, has helped some of the poorest people in West Africa to improve their working and living conditions by providing tools and training to help people grow their own crops.
May I, through your columns, thank all those individuals who have assisted with collections, Fenland District Council for enabling us to hold a street collection and run a market stall, Sainsbury’s supermarket for allowing us to collect in their store, and all those who have donated money to Christian Aid this year.
Rev’d Jenny Webb,
Christian Aid Organiser,
Churches Together in March.
A PR bid to raise taxes
With reference to some recent headlines in the Fenland Citizen:
Parking charges – Obviously it’s just a public relation stunt to justify an increase in council tax.
Obviously you’ll all vote for a council tax increase, rather than car parking charges in Fenland!
So I expect council tax will go up again.
Rooms to rent at Fenland Hall in March – “Ooh! Ooh!” can we have a burlesque house?
March-Wisbech Railway line – Yes, I look forward to all the promises made and the fact that the Conservatives will put “money where their mouth is” and deliver a fully operational and working railway by July 2019, so it’s not another re-election promise for 2020.