The government has lifted the income of the poorest fifth of the UK population, but official figures show that up to 12 million men, women and children still live in poverty, usually ignored by the media. In the first of a three-part series, Nick Davies traces the life of one man who lives on the poverty line.
Stories categorized “Poverty”:
Official figures show the gap beween rich and poor, which widened dramatically under the Thatcher and Major governments, remains unchanged by Labour policy. In the second part of his series on the poverty line, Nick Davies explores an old English village with new English problems.
The government says East Europeans may not claim the same benefits as other EU workers. In the final part of his series on the poverty line, Nick Davies meets destitute Poles in London and discovers a secret city.
Somewhere in some dark corner of this country, there is an impoverished and homeless man who does not know that he has been given a bank account full of cash which could change his life.
For £400, Allan Seymour would stop breaking the law. He’s been breaking it now for 34 years. He’s been punished with fines, punished in the community, punished in prison. Everybody is always telling him they’re going to rehabilitate him – he’s done all the courses. But here he is: 53 years old and up in court yet again. All for want of £400.
Joey Ganguli is at it all the time. He lives and breathes and earns his rolls of cash right in the middle of the Asian gang wars which run through criminal life in the East End of London like beach life runs through Blackpool.
It is always the same. As you turn off the dual carriageway and first see the estate in the distance, it appears so neat and clean and comforting, all those tidy rows of red-brick semis with square patches of green and the occasional neighbourhood store, the very model of a public housing project; then, as you arrive on the edge of the estate, you start to see the vengeful graffiti on the walls, the sodden scraps of litter and moulding mattresses and humping mongrels on the grass; and when, finally, a door opens and you step inside and start to see and hear the people there, you sink into a world of infinite difficulty.
In the brothels in the West End of London, I came across a particularly poignant statistic. Whereas 10 or 15 years ago a rich man who wanted to take a cane to the back of a young prostitute would have had to pay £100 for each stroke, he can now do so for only a tenth of the price. It’s a matter of supply and demand: there is a market surplus of desperate young women.
Frank Field is a good man. He also knows more about welfare benefits than anyone else in Westminster. Nevertheless, for the 13 million men, women and children who live in poverty in Britain, his forced departure from the cabinet last week was good news.
This is a perfectly good book, which should never have been written.