Five years ago the media barely reported on the use of food banks in the UK. This was mainly because the need for charitable service, provide by the Christian charity The Trussell Trust, wasn’t anywhere as near as what it is today. After the longest decline in a century, living standards are only now starting to recover. Not that many of the poorest households will feel this much hyped recovery, as wages are, for the most part, below the recommended living wage, with the Trussell Trust saying there has been a 38% increase in food bank use despite the economic recovery. Whilst some households find themselves making the desperate decision whether to pay the electricity bill or buy a weeks worth of food shopping, the despicable media troll, Katie Hopkins, has (unsurprisingly) been slating the rise and use of food banks. The Trussell Trust has stated that in the last twelve months alone, over one million food parcels have been handed out to families, up from 900,000 from the previous year (a 19% rise).
Katie Hopkins, disagrees with the use of food banks. Her article in The Sun, labels those who have used food banks as “idle voucher tourists” who move around to “score new nappies and deodorant they can flog for fags and booze”. Hopkins makes reference to the fact that these people probably have SKY and a mobile phone. God forbid! How dare they have anything nice in their lives! They must live in total poverty to be worthy of help from the welfare state! It’s this attitude which annoys me and many others. There are people, families, that suddenly fall into financial hardship. Whether that be from illness/disability, the loss of their job, to a history of financial problems which have caught up with them. These people can’t always foresee the circumstance they may find themselves in. This is where the safety net of the benefit system is suppose to fall into place. Its supposed to help these people in their time of need. And yet we have gotten to a point where the use of welfare is reported on as a weakness, something that the majority of people don’t really need. All of their problems would suddenly alleviate if they just got a job.
Which presents yet another problem; jobs. To echo the familiar Conservative rhetoric, yes employment has gone up, with an unemployment rate of 5.6% (the lowest since 2008). But pay is sluggish, hours are unreliable and zero hour contracts still exist. This all builds into a wider system which fails a wide, and varied proportion of the UK. It supports the housing crisis – people can’t afford the deposit to put down on a house – which in turn spurs on the increasing problem with renting. Landlords and estate agents put up rents and charge usually unreasonable ‘admin’ fees. We’re all too familiar with the crazy London flat adverts which boast an ‘affordable’ tiny little room where you can reach the cooker from your bed. And it’s maddeningly become the norm.
And these are some of the reasons I’m voting Labour on May 7th 2015. Labour who support rent control, who want to end the use of zero hour contracts and believe in the foundations and values of state welfare. I believe another five years of a Conservative government would see living standards among the poorest in our society decline further, dragging others with it. Whilst the richest, the banks and the affluent, find themselves living in a country which supports their needs and no one else’s. I don’t think that’s fair. Do you?