Can you spot it?
Citizens’ advice managers in Wales are warning the “true human cost” of the recession has yet to materialise after debt inquiries rose by almost 20%. The charities 32 offices in Wales dealt with 111,339 debt inquiries in the 12 months to April 2009, a rise of 19%. CAB Cymru director Fran Targett said previous recessions showed a lag before the number of debt advice calls peaked. More recent figures suggested a “spike” in problems with mortgages, loans, fuel debt and bailiffs, she said. The service, which operates from 200 locations in Wales, overall inquiries rose by 11% on the previous year to 298,119 in the 12 months to April 2009.
More than thirds of these we related to debt, with benefits and tax credit problems rising 11% to 97,803 and employment-related problems increasing by 17% to 22,262. Problems with mortgage and secured loans increased by 57% as did problems with private bailiffs. Fuel debt problems also increased by 31%. Within the benefits portfolio, problems with Job Seekers Allowance increased by 61%. Within the employment portfolio there was a 124% increase with redundancy-related problems.
I don’t understand, doesn’t everyone get £400 a month in expenses just to buy food???? Or a multi-Billion pound bailout??? Or am I being silly, million pound bonuses for financiers and income scams for their chums in parliament are more important than eating? Because literally that is the choice that has been made, and thankfully the police were there to enforce it with murder. Walk ten miles to a food bank then tell me things are fine with how we run this shit. Shall we have a big shiny think tank debate on it? Will there be a buffet lunch?
A charity providing emergency food aid says it has seen a massive increase in demand for help in a Welsh town. The Ebbw Vale food bank in Blaenau Gwent says there has been a 300% increase in those asking for help.
The charity’s manager, Adrian Curtis, said many of those affected were on benefits. “So far we’ve fed 165 people in the borough and last month we saw a 300% increase in our client base,” he said. “As more people are getting familiar with it, we’re getting more coming forward. We have noticed that some clients that have come in can be attributed to the credit crunch.”
He said just over half of the clients had contacted the food bank because of problems related to their benefit claims. “As a result of the economic downturn the benefit system is under stress and people are having to wait a little longer for their benefits,” said Mr Curtis, who is also regional development officer for Food Bank Wales.
He said the food bank helped people in a short-term crisis, such as a sudden drop in income which meant they could not provide food for themselves and their family. This includes people who have been made redundant or even victims of domestic abuse who have fled their homes with almost nothing.
Across the UK, the food bank network has now fed 24,000 people.
One individual helped by the project was unemployed Nigel Smith, 44, originally from Blaina. On the Friday morning before the May Day bank holiday, he discovered he would be unable to access any money as a result of a delay in his benefit. When benefits staff supplied him with a food voucher to help him out, he walked the 10 miles from his home to the food bank in Ebbw Vale. Staff there were able to supply him with two bags of food – a variety of tins, pasta, biscuits and breakfast cereal – as well as money for a bus ticket home and even a lift to the bus stop.
As the boss of the publicly owned company which invests billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to alleviate global poverty, Richard Laing is one of many dedicated to improving the finances of the poorest of the poor. But few engaged in the battle to relieve the suffering of the developing world can count on a pay package of nearly £1m as their reward.
The “extraordinary” remuneration received by Mr Laing as chief executive of CDC Group Plc, a little-known investment body that is wholly owned by the Department for International Development (DfID) and controls assets worth £2.7bn, is revealed today in a stinging report by the Westminster spending watchdog.
Between 2003 and 2007, Mr Laing, a 55-year-old Cambridge engineering graduate, saw his income rise from £383,000 to £970,000 as investments in projects from a Nigerian shopping mall to a Chinese egg producer reaped handsome returns. But MPs said the 250 per cent increase in Mr Laing’s pay deal had been given without CDC producing sufficient evidence that its portfolio of investments, from a mattress manufacturer to Kenyan fruit farmers, were reducing global poverty.
I think this is interesting because it calls out the phenomenon of affluent middle class media people setting poorer people against each other using race, all the better to keep attention off the inequality from which they profit. I think people who obsessively put ‘white’ in front of -working class- all the time are always suspect. And it’s not just the usual tabloid, conservative or fascist suspects doing that (hello BBC!)-
The white working class are discriminated against because of their accent, style, food, clothes, postcodes and even their names, but not because they are white, according to a Runnymede Trust study published today.
The report, Who Cares about the White Working Class?, disputes the claim that white working class communities have been directly losing out to migrants and minority ethnic groups.
It says that commentators who pretend that white working class disadvantage is ethnic rather than a matter of class does little to address the real and legitimate grievances that poor white people in Britain face.
The study followed a call from Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, for white working class voices and grievances to be heard.
It says that after a decade of politicians and commentators ignoring the issue of class, with Labour preferring to talk about “hard-working families” and “social exclusion”, class inequality is making an overdue comeback onto the political agenda.
“Britain remains blighted by class division, and economic background is still the best predictor of life chances. Class is central to how people see their place in Britain today. Returning to the issue of class inequality and social mobility is therefore long overdue,” the report says. Socially, Britain remains dominated by the same class divisions that have been in place for 40 years with scorn for poor white people and their “perceived” culture not only socially acceptable but also rampant.
But it also warns that there is a danger the “muted and repressed” debate on class that is re-emerging could prove harmful. It argues alarmist predictions that Labour’s neglect of the white working class will boost the British National party are little more than veiled attempts to curb race equality.
Citing examples of the BBC’s White Season and Channel 4’s Immigration – the Inconvenient Truth, the study says: “The interests of the white working class are habitually pitched against those of minority ethnic groups and immigrants, while larger social and economic structures are left out of the debate altogether.”
The researchers show, for example, that poor white working class boys being left behind at school are losing out to affluent white pupils, not minority ethnic pupils.
They say middle class commentators are happy to defend white working class interests against politically correct multiculturalism but they simultaneously deride and ridicule the feckless and undeserving poor, who have squandered the opportunities offered by the welfare state.
Why should it be such a surprise if the perpetrators are themselves Indian Muslims? Its hardly a secret that there has been much anger within the poorest sections of the Muslim community against the systematic discrimination and acts of violence carried out against them of which the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in shining Gujarat was only the most blatant and the most investigated episode, supported by the Chief Minister of the State and the local state apparatuses.
Add to this the continuing sore of Kashmir which has for decades been treated as a colony by Indian troops with random arrests, torture and rape of Kashmiris an everyday occurrence. Conditions have been much worse than in Tibet, but have aroused little sympathy in the West where the defense of human rights is heavily instrumentalised.
Indian intelligence outfits are well aware of all this and they should not encourage the fantasies of their political leaders. Its best to come out and accept that there are severe problems inside the country. A billion Indians: 80 percent Hindus and 14 percent Muslims. A very large minority that cannot be ethnically cleansed without provoking a wider conflict.
None of this justifies terrorism, but it should, at the very least, force India’s rulers to direct their gaze on their own country and the conditions that prevail. Economic disparities are profound. The absurd notion that the trickle-down effects of global capitalism would solve most problems can now be seen for what it always was: a fig leaf to conceal new modes of exploitation.