Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Poverty in the UK ‘blights 1m rural homes'

This is the judgement of the Governments ‘Rural Advocate’, Dr Stuart Burgess. He asserts that almost one million households in rural England live in poverty because they have incomes below the official poverty line of £16,492. The report thus talks of ‘shocking deprivation’ and hundreds of thousands of ‘disadvantaged individuals’ living in Britain’s rural areas. And it demands ‘action to support rural England’, saying ‘the people who live there are not prepared to be treated as second-class citizens’.

The ‘Rural Advocate’ also calls for more ‘affordable housing’, training opportunities for young people and financial support to provide care and services. He wants solutions to the problem of transport in rural areas, ‘where many have no option but to use cars’.

No option but to use cars?

Do they have to walk 20 miles for water every single day? Do they have to forage like animals for meagre grains of rice or morsels of rancid meat? Do they have to watch their young babies slowly starve to death at their arid and emaciated breasts? Do they have to watch their loved ones die lingering and painful deaths, ravaged by disease, devoid of hope?

Dr Burgess asserts that ‘nobody should be disadvantaged because of where they live’.

Quite so, Dr Burgess. Quite so.


Blogger Unsworth said...

@ Your Grace

I'm not convinced that it is necessary always to place comments in the context of global issues. Whilst no one can deny that events abroad are often more terrible than those in Britain does that entirely invalidate comments about the British condition?

That said, Dr Burgess has a point about the relative poverty of some of our rural communities when compared with other, more urban, areas. I have long felt that the NuLab tendency has little or no understanding of (or intention of understanding) rural Britain.

What should we do, then - ignore rural Britain because those in Africa (and elsewhere) are in need of help? What should be our priority?

4 March 2008 at 11:25  
Blogger mongoose said...

One cannot be both in poverty and in ownership of a motor car.

4 March 2008 at 11:50  
Anonymous billy said...

There are a lot of non drivers who are resident in our villages. They have become cut off as society has changed around them. Train services went in the '60's and bus services have followed. The post office and shop have gone.Youngsters cannot afford the house prices or find work, and go off to the towns.
Rural communities have broken down and left many people uncared for. Most of these people are elderly. They have no effective voice and are ignored.
We don't have to turn the clock back but we do need to look after people who become isolated by social change. A Christian outlook would be a good start.

4 March 2008 at 12:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mongoose, yes one can. Don't be so naive.

4 March 2008 at 14:27  
Anonymous Serf said...

What should we do, then - ignore rural Britain because those in Africa (and elsewhere) are in need of help?

Not at all. We could however use more circumspect language when talking about relative poverty in Britain.

4 March 2008 at 17:40  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace
o think i incline to billys post on this , unfortunately this current gov have allowed there retail friends (those who make adverts) to pressure the farmers into producing that which makes the most profit that can be run with fewist staff .
so our family Farmers have been sidelined , by retailers that act as make or breakers unable to build new stores and refurbish buildings . indeed so many barns have been made into houses it is hard to see what they were origionally for .

as for poverty in other parts of the world , having now seen the full extent of what the mugabes achieve , other than by direct food aid , we cannot help change poverty in africa until the powers to remove corrupt leaders and get them to value education and democracy and the law.

for now it seems too many african leaders squander national wealth on private armies , villas, swiss bank accounts and armoured mercedes .

it is corruption that causes the worst poverty and death.

4 March 2008 at 17:41  
Blogger mongoose said...

Cool! I haven't been accused of being naive for must be thirty years. The point, O intemperate anonyeegit, is that people in true poverty would sell their motor car to buy shoes for their kids' feet and bread for their mouths. One can be poor and have a motor car but one cannot be in true poverty. His Grace will doubtless be along to explain in due course.

4 March 2008 at 18:21  
Blogger Unsworth said...

@ Mongoose

Oh dear! So how do these people get to the supermarket to buy the bread and shoes? How can they even search for work so that they can buy food and shoes? What do they do when the money from such a sale runs out? Starve and hobble around barefoot?

OK - definition of 'true poverty', then? Poverty being a comparative, not absolute, term of course. Even the Rowntree Foundation agrees that 'poverty' is an arbitrary standard.

4 March 2008 at 19:40  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

Such a clever post Your Grace. I love it. Brilliant.

Now I'm thinking maybe I need to buy a car...?

4 March 2008 at 20:24  
Blogger Ttony said...

Well put.


4 March 2008 at 20:51  
Anonymous Cinnamon said...

Your Grace,

By your definition, no-one deserves any help because they are not *really* poor enough yet to be at death's door.

The car is the only viable form of transport in many rural areas, riding a horse or a bicycle may suit young folk on dry days (of they survive the road traffic) but for most people it's not realistic, plus horses just make a lot of icky mess.

Also, £16k is not very much money at all, considering the many stealth taxes of this government -- after the rent and the food is paid, not very much remains. Many of those people are also priced out of a normal family life by virtue of housing being unattainable, which is why our 30 somethings are rolling around drunk and drugged in the street instead of paying off a mortgage and looking after young children.

But true, not as bad as the pictures you showed us, but in 30 years, we're very likely to see our pensioners in the same unfortunate position as those starving children if we continue to make parenthood an expensive horror trip.

4 March 2008 at 23:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It does make you wonder what kind of fantasy planet these academic(?) people live on, when their definition of poverty, encompasses ownership of tv's, dvd players, designer sports clothes and bicycles, as well as free housing paid for by the rest of us.


5 March 2008 at 00:38  
Blogger mongoose said...

OK, I'll play. Would anyone like to try to define "poverty"? How about everyone who has commented on this thread posts their own definition of poverty? We'll leave His Grace to provid the final insightful arbitration.

5 March 2008 at 01:29  
Anonymous billy said...

Would anon prefer that we didn't provide any free housing?
Would the resulting homeless then fall into his definition of poverty or would he change the barrier; they have a cardboard box so they are not as impoverished as those who sleep under the Daily Mail?


5 March 2008 at 08:10  
Blogger Unsworth said...

His Grace in common with all other authorities cannot define poverty as an absolute term. That said he therefore can only define it as a relative, or comparative, term.

The question is what is 'poverty' to be related to or compared with?

As an example: How does the poverty of those living in the Rio favellas compare with those living in Arhiba, Djibouti? These are two different continents and the causes of poverty are not the same.

5 March 2008 at 10:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Compared to Richard Branson and Bill Gates I live in 'relative poverty' will the state please intervene and help?

5 March 2008 at 10:40  
Blogger mongoose said...

Quite so, anon. Poverty is not relative to anyone else's wealth. Poverty is about not having a roof, shoes or food - or the means to get them. Obviously the resources needed to provide these are differrent in different places. Thus a man can live for a week in Mali for the price of a pint in St John's Wood.

I would argue that poverty also includes the inability to affect this lack of resources. This inability can be furnished by any one of the four horsemen, and indeed any of a number of other calamities which befall our brothers and sisters about the place. Look under Waterloo Bridge of an evening and you will see as many causes of poverty as victims of it.

We have a moral duty to help those in poverty - wherever they may be. It matters not, morality not being relative. There is a different argument to be had about the poor. Is there a moral imperative to give alms to the poor? (Who now remembers "the undeserving poor"?) Or is it part of a social contract that we help the poor with benefits so that they don't rise up and scratch our Bentleys?

5 March 2008 at 11:28  
Blogger Unsworth said...

@ Mongoose

So, given that your definition of poverty is the possession of a roof, shoes, food and the means to get them, many if not all of those guys in the favellas etc are not living in poverty. I'm sorry, there's altogether much more to it than that simplistic assessment.

It goes without saying - or it certainly should - that we have a moral duty to help those less well-off (in all senses) than ourselves who, by definition, are in relative poverty. Whether that help arises (or should arise) from enlightened self-interest is another debate altogether. My Bentley has rarely been scratched or vandalised. Strangely the Maserati has.

As to an inability to affect the Four Horsemen - well it was ever thus for all mankind, although His Grace may disapprove of this apparent acceptance of superstition.

@ Anonymous 10:40
The fact that you are relatively impoverished does not oblige the State to intervene. However, and as indicated above, it might place a moral burden upon Mr Branson or Mr Gates. I'm sure that if you write to them explaining your predicament and the moral argument for support you will receive it.

5 March 2008 at 14:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Billy 8.10

If the free housing was taken away they would have to, HORROR!, go out and get a job like the rest of us...

5 March 2008 at 17:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant blog - loved it.

Can you provide a permalink please

17 March 2008 at 13:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i feel there is no way for poverty to be described unless you are witnessing someone living under the conditions of poverty, or you yourself are a victim of poverty. Even at the state of being relatively impoverished you are there for suffering, minor or major. Poverty IS a problem, in britain and all over the world. I'm sorry, there's altogether much more to it than that simplistic assessment and it goes without saying that it IS our moral duty to help those less forunate than us. Is there a moral necessity to give weath to the poor? Or is it part of a social contract that we should help the poor with benefits so that they don't rise up and scratch our cars, and mess our streets, could you not call that blackmail?

20 April 2009 at 16:02  

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