3 articles Tag poverty

Help Stop Companies from Robbing the Poor

Most of my readers know that I have strong socialist values and feel really strongly about equal rights for all people. Our current government has created a culture of keeping the rich rich and the poor poor, which has perpetuated food bank usage in the UK, huge levels of homelessness and the highest levels of child poverty in hundreds of years. What you might not know is that the huge tax-dodging companies which operate in the UK have a huge effect on poverty in other countries too. Companies dodge approximately £78 billion in tax in poor countries annually, stripping them of funds for vital services. Oxfam reveal that just a third of this amount would be enough to cover the healthcare that could prevent the needless deaths of eight million mothers, babies and children. Oxfam has created a powerful video to show what’s happening:

Showing it in such stark, literal terms of patients being directly deprived may seem provocative, especially when we see the part with the baby in an incubator, but the cold, hard facts are that this is exactly what happens when companies refuse to pay their taxes.

It makes me sick that even the lowest paid workers are expected to pay income tax and tax on almost everything they buy, but companies which turn over billions in profit get let off. I can’t even begin to get my head around how unfair that is and it’s time that we started demanding that the Government make changes.

Oxfam has started a petition and is asking people to follow this link and add your name to a list of people who wants to see changes happen NOW. It will take two minutes of your time and could make a difference, not only to us here in the UK, but also to people living in enforced poverty all over the world.

Do leave me a comment below if you have anything to say about the campaign or just to let me know you’re adding your name to the petition. I’m heading there to sign my name right now.

Has the Coalition Government Betrayed the Elderly?

Brought to you by Stannah Stairlifts

The care of our elderly citizens has been a popular news topic for some time now and the most recent reports are beginning to throw accusations at those responsible for allocating state-funded care to those most in need. Going under fire for betraying the elderly on earlier promises, the coalition government has come under great scrutiny lately – but are they really guilty?

Broken promises

According to a report on The Daily Telegraph, thousands of pensioners will be forced to sell their homes despite being promised that this wouldn’t happen. The scandal first gathered pace when it was announced that the government’s flagship scheme to stop old people having to sell their property while they’re paying for care at a residential home or in their own property would be means-tested.

The Government claims that this will improve prospects for the elderly so that they’re not facing unlimited care costs or being forced to part with their homes but other authorities have different opinions. They have claimed that thousands of pensioners could be put at risk but not qualifying for the scheme under the new means-test.

This would mean they would have to run down the value of their personal possessions and savings until it reached a figure lower than £23,250 at which point they would then qualify for the scheme.

Funding care

For those wondering what all the fuss is about, the crux of the issue lies with the cost of care. This has been rising for some time now, leaving older individuals struggling to cope with the bills. This led the Government to introduce a cap of £72,000 for the amount of money anyone should spend on their care over their lifetime with new rules on who can qualify for benefits and state-funded support.

The idea was that those who faced the idea of selling their homes to afford care would be able to talk to their local council and have their care bills settled via a long-term loan which was repaid from their estate so that they weren’t forced to relocate.

The means-test was introduced as a way to ensure that local councils were able to support this move financially but it is unlikely the battle will end here. With elections on the cards for parliament, social care is expected to be a big bargaining tool when different parties but their arguments forward. The coalition has already introduced a new model for elderly care payments with labour indicating that they are devising their own plans.

For those who rely on this care on a day to day basis, whether it be in the form of entering residential homes or adapting their own property with reconditioned stair lifts, this news is well worth monitoring. Checking eligibility for any additional financial aid or funding is vital if you need to pay out for regular care costs and the most important thing to remember is that the quality of service should not be sacrificed due to financial constraints.

Do Artists Need to be Poor to be Relevant?

Banksy

On our way to Liverpool on Friday, Husband and I were having a bit of a music sesh in the car, playing lots of CDs and going through some albums that we haven’t listened to in a while. We’re both massive fans of The Streets and one of the albums that got a play was Mike Skinner’s first, Original Pirate Material. I said to Husband that it would be on my all-time top ten albums list and he agreed, but we went on to discuss how Mike’s later projects didn’t have nearly as much of an impact as his first.

We decided it was because, when Mr. Skinner made his first album, he was young and ‘real’ – he didn’t have a lot of money, he was just an average lad making his way in the world and writing about his experiences. When you listen to his music is has a reality to it, a grittiness that makes it so unique. Our hypothesis about the subsequent albums is that as his success spiralled, he took a step away from the normality of his life and it made his writing less relevant to normal people and the audience with whom his previous work had resonated so deeply.

It reminded me of a conversation that I had with two of Husband’s cousins a couple of Christmasses ago. The conversation had got onto Banksy, the infamous yet anonymous street artist and political commentator who has taken the world by storm in the last few years. At the time, another ‘outing’ had happened where someone had claimed to the press that Banksy was not, in fact, a normal bloke from Bath who’d worked his way up in the street-art subculture, but was actually privately educated and from a wealthy background.

Both of Husband’s cousins were disgusted that he was potentially middle class and almost seemed to feel betrayed by his apparent class status. I asked them both at the time if artists needed to be poor to be subversive, especially given that a lot of Banksy’s art is so political, but they couldn’t quite come to a conclusion as to why it was unsuitable for someone of means to be commenting on politics in such an ‘urban’ way. And if Banksy was a rich boy, was his social commentary less authentic, because he lacked first-hand experience?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m by NO means advocating the middle and upper classes, I’m a working class girl from a background of union members and hard-grafters, but I do find it interesting that there seems to be a correlation between how people view certain artists and the class that those artists would most identify with. I looked back through the ages too, and it’s not just a recent phenomena – Picasso is one of the most divisive artists in history, but I’ve heard many an anecdote about him having to burn some of his early canvasses just to stay warm, during times of abject poverty when he couldn’t afford wood for his fire. Van Gogh died without a penny to his namem having never found fame during his life, only to be one of the most celebrated impressionists of modern times.

It’s not just artists either – Jimi Hendrix, Ringo Starr, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley all came from poverty and I can’t help but wonder if their individual impacts on the music world would have been so great had they been born middle or upper class? If they’d have had the edge and drive that they needed to become superstars? Sure, there are plenty of actors, artists, comedians and musician (especially in The UK) who were afforded the privilege of money and good education,  but I find it interesting how much more respect people are given when they appear to have ‘come from nothing’, and how the relevance of their music is increased by it.

So, how about you? Would you be disappointed to find out that Banksy was from a rich family? Would it make you think less of his art, or is the message the same regardless of what he came from? Does a person’s origins give them more of a right to comment on society, and does poverty make that opinion more authentic?

Let me know, I’m really interested in your opinion!