Apparently, George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith have decided to cut benefits to people of working age. This will include tax credits payable to people in work and which support families on a very low income. They claim this is a part of, “making work pay“! Many of those affected will be on the minimum wage. It seems crazy to me that the government (or the taxpayer, you and me) should subsidise companies which do not pay enough to their staff to enable them to look after their families. The answer must be to increase the minimum wage sufficiently to make work really pay.
If you had asked me 20 years ago to write about food poverty in Britain, I would have laughed and said, “No! Food poverty only exists in Africa or India.” But now, there is so much poverty in Britain, the USA and other ‘rich’ countries.
This poverty is real. I am not talking about starvation, but about malnutrition which reduces the physical and mental potential of a child. Our politicians seem to be content with creating an underclass, earning low wages to maximise the profits of big companies.
And yet, for the economy of the UK to grow, it is in the interests of the commercial sector that everybody has enough money for their needs, and money to spend. We seem to be heading relentlessly back to the 18th and 19th Century, when the gap between rich and poor was even greater than now.
Continue reading “Food Poverty in Britain”
The government of the United Kingdom says that is trying to encourage people back to work and reduce dependence upon state benefits. To do this, most of the emphasis has been on reducing benefits. I believe that rather than the stick of reducing benefits, more could be achieved by the carrot of increasing the minimum wage. In turn this would reduce our benefits bill and increase our national income through Income Tax, National Insurance, Value Added Tax etc.
There are about 1,350,000 people in Britain who only receive the minimum wage with a further 4 million earning less than a “living wage” (see below). Because it is impossible to support a family on this level, a great number of these will also be receiving state benefits. It is wrong that we, as taxpayers, should be subsidising companies who fail to pay a living wage to their workers. Continue reading “Why we should increase the minimum wage (UK)”
Social Justice is vital if a country claims to be morally as well as economically developed. The measure of a country is how the government and the people of that country treat the disadvantaged members of society. The Bible criticises those who exploit their workers, ignore the poor or do not look after the immigrant or the homeless. Sharing our resources is fundamental to the ideal of social justice.
In this article I am writing from a United Kingdom perspective, but the principles are true for all countries whether developed or developing. People are materially poor because of one or more of the following factors:
- Physical or mental disability which effects the possibility of employment
- Marriage breakdown causing a split into two households.
- Single parents struggling to balance a job and child care.
- Insufficient jobs with a meaningful salary.
- A major employer or industry closing down causing a disruption in the local economy.
- Choosing not to work and deliberately living off benefits. (I am NOT suggesting that more than a tiny minority could be classified as “scroungers” or “benefit cheats” but obviously there are a few who fit into this category.)
- Addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling etc,
- Prejudice based on racism or class.
- Inadequate education, or failing educational achievement. Continue reading “Social Justice (UK)”