By Lesley Roberts for Welfare Weekly.
How many people really know about the four characters of Victorian welfare; work, thrift, respectability and above all self-help. Who will explain the term “unsustainable” as “Laissez-faire”, where there is no government intervention to improve, support or protect the welfare of us all?
You would think that in this day and age we would be able to understand the draw backs of such policy. Voters drawn in by David Cameron’s promise of a “pay rise” have, unwittingly, been tricked into voting for a “pay cut”, not only now but for a great many more by the end of this governments term of office. Or perhaps I’m being unfair and the government will give people a significant pay rise in the form of a living wage – I seriously doubt it.
How many know of what life was like in Victorian times? The only way we can experience it now is via TV, book or films. Yet somehow we have suddenly voted for the return of “Victorian values”; values that were interpreted in a inhumane state where families were separated and people starved to death, not to mention the increase in “evils” of the time.
The Tory government, stating the obvious, no longer seem to be aware that they have the ability to improve lives, reduce inequality and improve the nations finances at the same time. Yet here we have a Chancellor of the Exchequer stating publicly that our fiscal policies should be based upon “Victorian values”. Why?
As a columnist points out in the Financial Times, George Osborne is mistaken to apply Victorian values to fiscal policy.
The other night I sat next to a woman who stated that we should return to “Victorian values”, with absolutely no knowledge of how that would affect her grandchildren’s future. The constant blame game, “life choice” stigma and labelling of the poor has and will take on new meanings, especially if the Tories get their way. Unemployed people “doing the right thing” by trying to find a job, will be labelled as having no “respectability”, or not “helping themselves to improve their lot” if they struggle to find employment that pays enough to live on.
Osborne’s financial “Victorian Values” may create even more “hoops” for people to jump through to get the help and support they desperately need, and will possibly cause even greater financial crisis for Britain’s poorest. All of this while the government and media hint of upcoming cuts to “in-work” benefits and tax credits, without dealing with zero hour contracts and low wages.
Why blame the poor for been poor? After all we’ve been here before, it didn’t work then and it won’t work now. We’re all still waiting to find out how many people have died due to welfare cuts. How many more will die as the Tories progress with their policy of abuse against the welfare of hard-working people, and those who are too sick or disabled to work?
I remember one commentator replying to a comment I had made about poverty here in the UK. “There is no real poverty here; you want to travel aboard to see real poverty”, was his excuse for ignoring what is happening here in the UK. Spin and propaganda has pulled a curtain over the eyes of the British public.
The language and actions of George Osborne and his Tory colleagues, will mean that people won’t need to travel abroad to see high-levels of extreme poverty, because it’ll be evident in their communities and on their doorstep. Ignoring the problem and pretending it isn’t there will not make it go away!
What people should be asking themselves is why would anyone want increased levels of poverty in the UK, especially when you can do something about it?