Monday, 23 May 2011


I wanted to say a little more about the subject of families that I raised briefly in yesterday’s post.

It seems that a series of governments over the years has let down families in the UK. Ironic, as no matter the subject you can always assume that at some point in a speech a politician will mention them. Sometimes they are hard working, sometimes hard pressed, but they are almost invariably there and all government policies are alleged to support them.

So it’s pretty damned poor then that a research project has concluded that the UK’s families have amongst the worst conditions in Europe.

The report called ‘Family Pressure Gauge’ drawing on statistics from the EU and OECD, over 25 indicators with comparison over 26 countries, makes the following points.

*The UK has high levels of debt and poverty, coupled with long and unsocial working hours;
*Stress from money and work worries, along with a lack of support for parents and poor living conditions, are all factors;
*20% of families struggling to make ends meet;
*14% of families suffer "critical" levels of debt (compared to 1% of Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian households, to which at least Scotland is very close);
*Almost 25% of the average British working family income goes on childcare costs (double French costs and triple German).
*14% of families spends more than 40% of income on the rent or a mortgage (1.8% of French are in this situation).
*Britain is the second worst country in Europe for provision of maternity and paternity leave.
*340,800, British families (5%) live in severe housing deprivation with overcrowded homes in poor condition, without a bath, shower or indoor toilet, for example. (12 times more than in the Netherlands, and substantially worse than Germany or Spain and the Nordic countries).
*Britons work some of the longest hours in Europe (on average 43 per week).
78% of British workers do not have flexible working hours.

The report accuses the Cameron/Clegg Government of a lack of focus on family policy. The Childhood and Families task force, set up in June last year, has not, it says, delivered anything and pledges on flexible working had been reneged upon.

It says that things are set to get worse and with more redundancies, lower wages, higher inflation, rising interest rates, house possessions and so on, I can see where they are coming from.

According to figures from the Rowantree Foundation, a record 2.1 million children in Britain live in poverty, an increase of 400,000 in 5 years, despite one or both of their parents working. So much for Brown and Blair’s pledge of getting rid of it completely.

The report gives examples of families with two people working, where they are only just able to pay the interest on their mortgage, no holidays, no drinking and smoking and only a cheap car; others who work 50+ hours a week for around £14,000 a year.

This makes a total mockery of the spoutings of Iain Duncan-Smith that work is the way out of poverty. Not in Britain, it ain’t matey.

How on earth did we get ourselves into a mess like this?


  1. "How on earth did we get ourselves into a mess like this?"

    Errr easy. By voting LIb Lab Con SNP
    Voting for windmills, EU, mass immigration, PC, multiculturalism, perpetual wars, Trident, BBC etc

  2. An ugly Princesses hat was sold for £81K on ebay. They don't care and are peeing on us from a great height. The revolution is close. Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain..... UK

  3. Silly me, Monty. I should have known that answer.

    Time Scotland took a stand.

  4. In fairness, Hugh, it is only right to state that the £81k went to charity.

    But your points are well taken. All over Europe and the Middle East, except it seems in the submissive UK, people are kicking off about how badly they are being treated (and it seems that the UK is being treated badly, at least by European standards)and in the meantime someone has £81,000 to pay for a stupid hat which once fitted on the head of a girl, who happens, by accident of birth, to be related to the Queen of Scots.

    Oh and your second point... she is plug ugly, even with all that money, isn't she?

    It occurs to me, as an afterthought, that she could have given it to her mum to sell to pay of some of her high living debts. That at least might have avoided the neccesity for Fergie to embarrass the royals again with some antic or other to raise funds.

    On the subject of charity, I see that Cameron is relaunching again (and no, that's not an error) his Big Society. We are all supposed to give more and do more.

    I'm not sure that that is going to boost the figures much. Most people don't like being harped at to do or give more. Certainly not by someone who could easily give a few millions to charity this very minute.

    Remember Francis Maude who, when put on the spot by Eddie Mayer, could not mention one single thing that he did for the Big Society.

  5. Makes a mockery (another one) of their new speak gibberish!

  6. Yes it does Munguin. Brown and blair were guilty of the same thing.

    Governments everywhere (including our own) need to be aware that they should only belabour a point for political gain if they actually intend to do something about it.

  7. A rhetorical question, no doubt, but was it ever truly, profoundly and lastingly fair and human and good to the broad mass of folk except for the upward tic of social reform post-second world war and the popular, electoral coup d'etat against Churchill? The rest if not quite a chimera - for that would be untrue - at least not as profoundly rooted in society nor as progressive - especially south of the border - as the political classes and their propaganda organs would have had our immediate forebears believe (honourable exceptions excluded).

    Good luck to our friends in the south when they come to terms with these brute realities and seek of their own free-will and volition to address and remedy these inequities.

    Hopefully, a resurgent, independent and truly democratic Scotland that is globally integrated in its own right may offer decent English folk some food for thought when they, too, seek to re-make themselves and their children's futures.

    To otherwise allow this situation to continue is a moral scandal of truly rotten proportions.

  8. It is true that the recession will hit the worst off hardest. But this coalition has enacted policies which have made a difference, and has saved millions of poorer families (and individuals, single mothers etc, lets not forget them here) from the threats of redundancy, bankruptcy so forth.

    Lifting the income tax threshold, progressively toward 10,000k will make the difference to exactly the poorest and least fortunate that you talk about Tris. This has only happened thanks to a Conservative-LibDem coalition. 13 years of Labour never delivered it.

    Apart from that, Cameron has already outlined his plan via IDS to ensure that work pays. That is to say, make sure people at the bottom end of the earnings spectrum actually get paid the decent, fair wage they deserve - so as to ensure that people are always better off working than living on benefits (obvious exclusions apply, naturally).

    So while the situation is terrible, I can see practical measures already in place that shows that this government does care; and is taking action already. This is not to say more cannot be done however.

  9. tris

    Oh do come on this is the Capitalist road we are on the consequences for the powerless are inevitable and always will be.

    The rich get rich the poor get poorer it was ever thus....

  10. How not to tackle poverty. I thought both the Tories and LibDems were against these in there respective manifestos a total waste of space and paper.

  11. David:

    I certainly agree with you that it is a moral outrage, especially when juxtaposed with the amount of money that the UK spends on wars and weaponry.

    I believe that a Scottish state, independent of the UK, would put people first, and by that I don't mean the few people that the UK state shows preference.

    Wasn't Blair who rabbited on about the many not the few... yet another soundbite with no foundation in reality.

    I'm rather glad that your first question was rhetorical though, because it was a bit on the complex side for my very limited number of grey dells!! :¬)

  12. Dean:

    So far the tax threshold has been lifted to just over £7,000. That means that at half the povery level, people are still paying income tax. And VAT has been raised to 20% which more than makes up for any tiny amount of extra in tax relief.

    The only way that you can have work paying is to have a decent minimum wage. In places like Dundee where vast numbers of the jobs are at the minimum wage, there is no way that it pays. I've not heard Duncan Smith come up with any proposals about increasing wages. Work does not pay at present, and hasn't for as long as I can remember, most certainly since Mrs Thatcher did away with minimum wages, to make us competitive.

    Of course that didn't work because of our greedy (and crap) management, as is evidenced that we never did become competitive. We just had a pile of discontented workers getting what was called "supplementary benefit" to make up their wages to the very lowest amount it was possible to live on.

    The one thing I would agree with you about is that, apart from reinstalling a minimum wage and introducing working tax credits, Labour did nothing much to improve the lot of the people at the bottom. It did however vastly improve the lot of the people at the top. They were more Tory than the Tories.

  13. Doesn't have to be Niko. Not in Scotland.

  14. Ah yes CH.... but that was BEFORE the election.

    It actually sounds scary.

    I was wondering how they thought that this would soften the blow of cuts, as they said in the article.

    "Oh look, I've been made redundant, the interest rates on my mortgage has gone up, the house will be repossessed.... but on the up side... I've got a new identity card run by a private company with all my details on it for them to lose of sell or whatever... and it only cost me £X.

    Woop de do."

    What a set of lying two faced bastards.