Although we fortunately don’t see the extremes of poverty referenced in this latest independent report from the UN, it does point to some of the funding issues that I am seeing in my role on Staverton Parish Council, and so I thought it relevant to post it here.
Here are a few key quotes. Or read the full report – useful to gain an outside non-partisan view on what’s happening in our country.
“Local authorities, especially in England, which perform vital roles in providing a real social safety net have been gutted by a series of government policies”
“According to the National Audit Office, local governments in England have seen a 49% real-terms reduction in Government funding from 2010-11 to 2017-18 alongside a rise in demand for key social services.”
“Cuts are being made without either measuring or accounting for their broader impact, such as increasing the need for crisis support and mental health services. People are being pushed toward much more expensive services that can’t turn them away, like accident and emergency rooms.”
“In England, homelessness is up 60% since 2010, rough sleeping is up 134%.54 There are 1.2 million people on the social housing waiting list, but less than 6,000 homes were built last year.55Food bank use is up almost four- fold since 2012,56and there are now about 2,000 food banks in the UK, up from just 29 at the height of the financial crisis.”
Despite the idyllic traditional image of the English countryside, poverty in rural areas is particularly harsh. Rural dwellers are particularly impacted by cuts to transportation and public services, are at a higher risk of loneliness and isolation, and often face higher fuel costs.
“The experience of the United Kingdom, especially since 2010, underscores the conclusion that poverty is a political choice. Austerity could easily have spared the poor, if the political will had existed to do so. Resources were available to the Treasury at the last budget that could have transformed the situation of millions of people living in poverty, but the political choice was made to fund tax cuts for the wealthy instead.”
“Loneliness rates have soared in recent years and life expectancy rates have stalled in the United Kingdom, with the latest statistics showing a sharp drop in the annual improvement that has been experienced every year since the records began, and an actual drop for certain groups.”
“Transport, especially in rural areas, should be considered an essential service, equivalent to water and electricity, and the government should regulate the sector to the extent necessary to ensure that people living in rural areas are adequately served. Abandoning people to the private market”