The theme of the BBC’s Children In Need this year was disadvantaged children in the UK. The BBC presenters, as always, directed their appeals to the general public, not to Prime Minister Theresa May, who has continued her predecessor David Cameron’s vicious offensive against the working class poor.
More than a quarter of UK children now live in poverty. This appalling figure is expected to rise to a staggering 37% (5.2 million) by 2022. If so, child poverty will have almost tripled since the 1960s. None of this was mentioned by Children In Need.
These millions of children’s families, forever the subject of bourgeois contempt (and fear), cannot be stereotyped as ‘scroungers’: 64% are working households.
If not the sole cause, the ruling elite’s austerity drive has certainly contributed to this appalling situation. Under David Cameron, tax/benefit changes caused the poorest tenth to suffer a 38% income drop, while the last two years alone saw half a million food bank users cite benefit changes and delays as causes of their predicament. Again, unmentioned by Children In Need.
This year’s raised £860 million in generous donations from the viewing public. Tory cuts, however, have run into the billions. Last August, the UN issued a damning report decrying the yearly £2-3000 income drop imposed on half a million disabled persons by Tory cuts, many of them thrown under the poverty line as a result. The report also documented disabled persons’ reduced access to both healthcare and inclusive education.
Launched in the shadow of the greatest financial crash since the Great Depression, the ‘Age of Austerity’ possessed a peculiar logic: having bailed out the crooked banks to the tune of £1 trillion, British taxpayers must now have to further pay off the national debt incurred by same bailouts. This payoff would take the form of the nation’s biggest spending cuts since World War Two. As austerity drove down demand, the debt spiralled: the fruits of neoliberal economic logic.
This savage assault against Britain’s working class has been necessary, you see. The government is skint, as evidenced by the multi-trillion-pound tax haven headquartered in the City of London. Its details exposed by the ‘Panama/Paradise Papers’ (future post), Cameron, Hague and Osborne are all linked to this vast offshore network, whose combined value could wipe out world poverty for perhaps a century.
In the world’s sixth richest country, a quarter of children are in poverty while the combined wealth of the richest 1000 represents a full third of the national GDP. The few thousand saved by plastic cladding, meanwhile, meant a tower block massacre in Britain’s most unequal borough (https://flashpointssite.wordpress.com/2017/06/17/grenhall-fire-an-act-of-corporate-terrorism/).
According to the Tax Justice Network, Britain’s super rich are dodging/evading £69.9 billion in tax. The country’s entire welfare budget, meanwhile, is £400 million. Worse still, the latest EU immigrants pay more in tax than they receive in benefits!
Britain’s children don’t need charity. They need revolution.
Further reading: ‘The True Cost of Austerity and Inequality: A Case Study’, Oxfam 09/13