Welfare cuts, inequality, and destitution

22 Feb 2018
The Government’s welfare cuts are forecast to trigger an increase in inequality – a concerning development in and of itself. But a much more serious consequence of those cuts is the accompanying rise of destitution.

Feeding Birkenhead is working tirelessly to prevent poorer families and individuals falling into the clutches of destitution. Yet the frontline projects and volunteers who undertake this work report that a growing number of vulnerable people are dropping out of the system altogether. Single people living alone – including one army veteran who recently had to survive in the bushes, and a vulnerable man who was sanctioned for missing a benefit appointment because he was in A&E – are particularly at risk of succumbing to this social evil.

Likewise, children from poorer families, for whom Feeding Birkenhead provides free dinners during the school holidays, are in some cases going without food in the morning as there is nothing to eat at home. They arrive hungry.

Meanwhile, several of the town’s schools report that during term time, a growing number of children are beginning the day’s lessons on an empty stomach, without having eaten a proper breakfast at home. They too arrive hungry.  

Nothing short of a mega programme of social reform is required to narrow the inequalities that exist on so many fronts between the wealthiest and the poorest households in this country. We must first, though, fight a rear-guard action to eliminate the destitution that afflicts all too many of those at the bottom of the pile.