Gransnet forums

Chat

What is poverty? | 1960s UK | 1960s Nottingham | St Ann's | Documentary Report | 1969

(32 Posts)
lemsip Sun 25-Feb-24 19:46:45

www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMCsRd3Rfgg

I found this by chance and felt for the young mother sewing lace for a few shillings..

her husband earning £12 a week before stoppages and she said he could get more on assistance....... somethings don't change.

Doodledog Sun 25-Feb-24 20:08:13

I can't listen to the video as Mr D is watching TV, but I agree that it is very wrong that people are not able to work their way out of poverty. Wages are kept low by allowing employers to pay very little and their workers getting it made up with benefits, although I don't think that this was happening in the 1960s. That is bad for the taxpayer, and bad for the employees, who become dependent on the state, and have to report everything they earn in order to claim the benefits, which would stop if they earned above the means-tested threshold.

There seems to be a race to the bottom in the UK. Means tests will always hold people back - whether those in the 'gig economy', those earning over £100k who lose out on help with childcare, or those in between who don't get child benefit because they earn above a threshold, so they lose their autonomy in so many ways.

Those who save or earn 'too much' are discouraged from trying to improve their lot, as they know that concessions of various types will be lost if they manage it. Meanwhile, many people don't pay tax, but still use the facilities it pays for.

We really need to reconsider the whole system to make it fairer to everyone. I would like to see a fully contributory tax system, an increase in the living wage, no 'top ups' that can make people better off working part time whilst others have to work overtime to get by, and an end to means tests.

Curtaintwitcher Mon 26-Feb-24 07:01:48

Yes, the whole system does need a shake-up. Private companies should be forced to pay a proper, living wage. On the matter of child care....do women work because they need the money or because they don't want to be at home all day? Has anyone studied the effect on children who spend most of their time with a group of strangers as opposed to those looked after by one person?
The medical profession needs money invested in it. When you consider what nurses and carers have to deal with, they really should be much better paid. It's far too easy to ship in foreigners just because they will accept poorer wages. We should concentrate on our own citizens, and make the professions more attractive to them.

nanna8 Mon 26-Feb-24 07:32:21

Yes, there is something very,very wrong in the world when sports people and entertainers are paid so much and medical people so little! Not just the uk, all over the western world. Here people who direct traffic on building sites are paid about 3 times that of a nurse or teacher. Strong unions.

lemsip Mon 26-Feb-24 08:08:39

has anyone clicked on the link? it's only a short film, the young mother sewing lace in her living room.
it's worth a watch.

HowVeryDareYou2 Mon 26-Feb-24 08:27:48

I grew up in the St. Ann's area of Nottingham. I was the youngest of 4 children, in a 2-up, 2-down terraced house. No bathroom, indoor toilet, heating, carpets, 'fridge, or washing machine. We were always clean and tidy, well-fed and cared for by our parents. In contrast, the majority of children these days have all those things, and their parents have mobile 'phones, broadband, and Universal Credit.

keepcalmandcavachon Mon 26-Feb-24 08:31:42

Yes lemsip , I've watched, thankyou for posting this. It seems so distant and at the same time bang up to date. There seemed to be a real time of optimism for a few decades between 'then' and now.

Birthto110 Mon 26-Feb-24 08:44:02

Doodledog

I can't listen to the video as Mr D is watching TV, but I agree that it is very wrong that people are not able to work their way out of poverty. Wages are kept low by allowing employers to pay very little and their workers getting it made up with benefits, although I don't think that this was happening in the 1960s. That is bad for the taxpayer, and bad for the employees, who become dependent on the state, and have to report everything they earn in order to claim the benefits, which would stop if they earned above the means-tested threshold.

There seems to be a race to the bottom in the UK. Means tests will always hold people back - whether those in the 'gig economy', those earning over £100k who lose out on help with childcare, or those in between who don't get child benefit because they earn above a threshold, so they lose their autonomy in so many ways.

Those who save or earn 'too much' are discouraged from trying to improve their lot, as they know that concessions of various types will be lost if they manage it. Meanwhile, many people don't pay tax, but still use the facilities it pays for.

We really need to reconsider the whole system to make it fairer to everyone. I would like to see a fully contributory tax system, an increase in the living wage, no 'top ups' that can make people better off working part time whilst others have to work overtime to get by, and an end to means tests.

Agree employers should pay more at the bottom end - and the multiple difference in pay ratio between lowest paid and top paid in any company should be reduced. The difference is huge at present. The top FTSE companies have a ratio of 232:1 or similar. Local authorities 15:1.

They don't always means test before providing support.... The £600 fuel help that went to some people who are millionaires is one example. With families they tax based on individual income, but they withdraw support to the main caregiver (child benefit) based on partner's income, so they apply things in different ways to social engineer and regardless of whether there are dependents. So a single person without responsibilities for others could well be paying less tax on same income as a parent with responsibilities for several others. No other country does this.

Some people don't pay tax as they are unwell - or earn too little on low wages - caregivers would be a good example. Some need/ want to work part time as older, struggling with health or care responsibilities at home - so I feel it's only right that part time workers get support if they are caring for children or older relatives or a spouse with dementia - or are struggling themselves with health.
On the crafting front, it is good to know that lots of crafts are coming back into vogue - more younger people doing crochet and knitting etc than ever. Suggested to an older relative that she could find pleasure from knitting like she used to enjoy when 20 in the 60s and she replied 'only grey haired people do that'. Not true! Crafting is a force for inter-generational get-togethers and shared knowledge and expertise these days.

lemsip Mon 26-Feb-24 09:31:17

keepcalmandcavachon

Yes lemsip , I've watched, thankyou for posting this. It seems so distant and at the same time bang up to date. There seemed to be a real time of optimism for a few decades between 'then' and now.

thanks for watching. it's a history site

Katie59 Mon 26-Feb-24 09:53:34

Looking back I don’t know how the poor survived in the 50s and 60s but they did, I will say there were few over weight children at my school, they had lot more exercise though. We did get proper school meals not snacks, about 10% had free meals.
Housing seems to have been much easier, rents affordable, food was much more expensive in relation to income so you had to make the most of the basics. Most women didn’t work until the children were at school so one income had to pay for living costs.

TinSoldier Mon 26-Feb-24 10:07:10

Yes, I have watched it. It resonated with me.

In the 50s and 60s, we lived in my grandmother’s council house in a predominantly industrial town. She had been widowed in her thirties, long before I was born. Our father had deserted my mother, brother and I when we were very young and did not support us. My gran and mum both worked in factories making industrial components. Gran did the day shift, mum the evening shift. They would have earned less than men doing the same jobs. They also cared for and supported my materal great-grandfather who lived across the road and was 89 at the time the film was made.

The notion of claiming National Assistance or claiming free school meals was shameful to them - a sentiment echoed by the woman in the film. They took in piecework too, just as the woman did with lace. We made ballpoint pens. All four of us sat around the kitchen table at weekends, assembling the components. Our nimble child-fingers came in useful. I imagine my family earned a pittance from it probably to pay for our clothes and shoes which were bought from the tally man or by Provident cheque.

I remember the one coal fire in the house; no heating in any other rooms, ice on the insides of windows. Outside lav, of course, and an inside bathroom that had no running hot water. Water for baths was heated in an old metal wash copper in the kitchen and taken through to the bathroom in bowls and buckets.

As a family, I doubt we were different from many people scraping to get by. Arguably, life would not have been quite so hard had there been a working man in the household.

In a nod to another discussion, it was a revelation to go to grammar school on the other side of town where I met girls whose fathers were bank managers and solicitors, whose mothers didn’t go out to work, who lived in big houses in tree-lined avenues and had cars and went on ski-ing holidays.

Some of these girls became lifelong friends. I realised that education is a great leveller. I was just as smart. We have all gone on to have succcesful professional careers. The only difference is that they have all inherited wealth from their parents while my gran and mum had little to leave despite a lifetime of hard work. I realised too late that my gran and mum were just as intelligent but trapped by working-class poverty and circumstance.

Doodledog Mon 26-Feb-24 10:16:33

With families they tax based on individual income, but they withdraw support to the main caregiver (child benefit) based on partner's income, so they apply things in different ways to social engineer and regardless of whether there are dependents. So a single person without responsibilities for others could well be paying less tax on same income as a parent with responsibilities for several others. No other country does this.
But there are families without a 'main caregiver', who share the care, or pay for a couple of hours of childcare after school. I don't think that the state should be socially engineering, or giving breaks to some lifestyles and not others. A lot of people say that the Child Benefit system is unfair as two people earning just under the threshold get it, but one person earning just over it doesn't qualify. I see that as perfectly reasonable (if it has to be means-tested at all, which IMO it shouldn't be). Of course a family with two taxpaying workers should get the same help as a family with one worker - they should really get more, as they are paying for childcare, commuting and other work expenses which a family with a stay at home parent is not, and arguably CB should help with that. People should make decisions based on what works for them, and what they can afford. IMO the state shouldn't spend taxpayers' money on prioritising some decisions over others, particularly when they take from a taxpaying couple to give to one where a parent is not working. I am absolutely in favour of child benefit as a way of helping people through the expensive years when they have children, but I think it should be a universal benefit, and not based on income or partner status. I also think that people who want to work part-time should be able to, but they shouldn't expect to get full-time pay for doing so - particularly if it is full-time workers who are subsidising that choice.

I don't approve of married couples getting preferential treatment over cohabiting couples either, incidentally - or of household income being the baseline for benefits when people are taxed as individuals. We should all pay in and all take out as individuals (obviously except for those who are unable to do so). I agree that people caring for the sick or disabled should get support, but not those who choose not to work to be at home when their children are at school. Stay at home by all means, but don't expect other people to work to support that choice - particularly if you are going to make spurious remarks about children being 'brought up by a group of strangers' when you don't know anything about research into the area (which has, of course, been carried out)🙄.

I agree about crafting being a good way to bring generations together. I have knitted since childhood, and as a young woman had to listen to comments about how it was for old people, and also that it was somehow not feminist to have a traditionally 'female' hobby (I know!). My knitting group is mainly made up of older people, because it's during the day and younger ones are at work, but we do get younger people popping in sometimes - usually when they have a problem with their project and can fit in a quick visit. It's lovely when that happens, as we can pass on our tips the next generation.

foxie48 Mon 26-Feb-24 13:31:53

My aunt used to do piecework, sticking glass jewels on cheap jewellery. She lived with my grandmother and son in a back to back, basically 2 downstairs rooms and 2 upstairs rooms. The toilet and wash place was outside and communal. It had been home to my grandmother and grandfather (who was dead before I was born) and their three children. My father knew what it was like to live in poverty. He couldn't always go to school because he had no shoes, he sometimes wore his mother's shoes stuffed with paper to make them fit and he was often hungry. When he was apprenticed in the 30's his meagre wage kept the whole family, once his training was over and he commanded a proper wage, he was sacked and he took whatever he could including cleaning railway carriages. As a married man the threat of poverty meant he worked hard, saved and was very careful with money and proud that he could always pay the bills. I think I was ashamed of his humble beginnings when I was young but when I did some family research I discovered that my great grandfather had been a miner in the Black Country, when the pits closed, aged 72 he walked with his 10 year old grandson to Manchester to help build the Ship canal so he could send money home to keep the rest of the family. tbh I am proud of my roots, tough, decent but incredibly poor people. We don't have poverty like that now and thank goodness for that.

Maggierose Mon 26-Feb-24 13:49:23

My local council allocates housing on a points system. You are allocated extra points if you are in employment. This seems unfair on single parents with pre- school age children. Isn’t bringing up babies and toddlers a job in itself?

HousePlantQueen Mon 26-Feb-24 17:32:37

HowVeryDareYou2

I grew up in the St. Ann's area of Nottingham. I was the youngest of 4 children, in a 2-up, 2-down terraced house. No bathroom, indoor toilet, heating, carpets, 'fridge, or washing machine. We were always clean and tidy, well-fed and cared for by our parents. In contrast, the majority of children these days have all those things, and their parents have mobile 'phones, broadband, and Universal Credit.

Mobile phones and broadband are not luxuries. Benefit claims are made on line, as are many appointments, let alone children needing it to do their homework.

Katie59 Mon 26-Feb-24 18:01:41

“Mobile phones and broadband are not luxuries. Benefit claims are made on line, as are many appointments, let alone children needing it to do their homework.”

I’m afraid it’s becoming difficult to do anything without a mobile phone these days, security for most things relies on a text or email to confirm passwords.

HowVeryDareYou2 Tue 27-Feb-24 09:24:23

HousePlantQueen

HowVeryDareYou2

I grew up in the St. Ann's area of Nottingham. I was the youngest of 4 children, in a 2-up, 2-down terraced house. No bathroom, indoor toilet, heating, carpets, 'fridge, or washing machine. We were always clean and tidy, well-fed and cared for by our parents. In contrast, the majority of children these days have all those things, and their parents have mobile 'phones, broadband, and Universal Credit.

Mobile phones and broadband are not luxuries. Benefit claims are made on line, as are many appointments, let alone children needing it to do their homework.

I didn't say they were luxuries - they certainly make life easier for people, though. What I meant was that times have changed, and the majority of people have got mobiles, broadband, etc., much of it due to Universal Credit - I know people who work part-time, get UC, run a car, and still are better off than my parents ever were.

lemsip Tue 27-Feb-24 10:20:03

well of course people are better off than our parents were back in the day.

HowVeryDareYou2 Tue 27-Feb-24 10:21:47

Of course, people are - but many are better off because they're on benefits, and that's not really right, is it?

Granmarderby10 Tue 27-Feb-24 11:02:26

Goodness me lemsip that documentary on YouTube and those statistics -which are absolutely genuine are used frequently whenever comparisons are made between the changing perceptions of social inequalities over time.

A twin tub washing machine would have been considered a “mod con” along with indoor toilet, centra heating, hot water and shoes that fit and being adequately fed but a dream !😴

In that same period 1960s onward if anyone had told me that children of my age were living like those in St Annes’ (Notts) I would have been amazed.

Why was that area so stricken still at that time? There were slums in my ”town” but many had been “cleared” and some demolished or in the process of, ..as was evident all around. The residents were moved to newly built council properties on huge estates. (another story)
Things are regressing (imo) with regard to social mobility now.
You’d be hard pressed to find a twin tub washer outside of a museum now, along with proper telephones and big box tv sets. You’d be considered rather odd if you preferred one.
People have reacted with a mixture of sympathy and disbelief that I don’t go on holiday and have rarely done for most of my adult life. I don’t care about holidays.. but some think they’re essential. I don’t drive …and don’t want to now but again this has become essential due to the structure of society and peoples aspiration being so well aspirational 🤗

Callistemon21 Tue 27-Feb-24 11:56:22

The reporter said that the rent for the young woman and her husband in 1969 was 50 shillings per week (£2.10s or £2.50p now).
I remember that, in 1967, we paid £4.10s for a one-bedroom upstairs flat in a house. My allotment was £11 pw, so rent, gas, electricity, food, bus fares, expenses, etc all came out of that amount.

We did earn more than that but every penny extra was going towards a deposit for a house.

I'm surprised that they were still clearing what looked like bomb sites in 1969; I do remember them in the 1950s.

Doodledog Tue 27-Feb-24 13:38:01

Maggierose

My local council allocates housing on a points system. You are allocated extra points if you are in employment. This seems unfair on single parents with pre- school age children. Isn’t bringing up babies and toddlers a job in itself?

It's a job that many parents do on top of working for a living and supporting their children that way. Whilst looking after babies and toddlers is not always compatible with work, it doesn't seem to me unreasonable to treat working parents in the same way as those who don't, and prioritising those who don't work definitely seems unfair.

HowVeryDareYou2 Tue 27-Feb-24 16:00:57

Granmarderby10 I was born in 1959 (I'll be 65 in April) and grew up in St. Anns, with no bathroom, indoor toilet, washing machine (my mum used the launderette but eventually got a twin-tub when I was 14), kitchen (just a sink, cooker, Ascot thing on the wall.

HowVeryDareYou2 Tue 27-Feb-24 16:07:32

I should add that my husband, a year older than me, grew up in a house in West Bridgford (his parents had a mortgage), with carpets, central heating, his own room (I had to share a room with my parents until I was 11), double glazing, washer, fridge-freezer, etc. He doesn't know what I'm talking about when I tell him about my childhood

TinSoldier Tue 27-Feb-24 16:46:43

Doodledog

Maggierose

My local council allocates housing on a points system. You are allocated extra points if you are in employment. This seems unfair on single parents with pre- school age children. Isn’t bringing up babies and toddlers a job in itself?

It's a job that many parents do on top of working for a living and supporting their children that way. Whilst looking after babies and toddlers is not always compatible with work, it doesn't seem to me unreasonable to treat working parents in the same way as those who don't, and prioritising those who don't work definitely seems unfair.

My local council make it clear on its website that it seeks to “‘incentivise applicants to seek employment if they are able to work”. It says nothing publicly about how it judges ability to work but I believe it goes to this:

The Allocation of Accommodation: Guidance for Local Housing Authorities England 2012

assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/60df2d0de90e0771784b991f/Current_allocation_of_accommodation_guidance.pdf

Households in work or seeking work

4.27 Local authorities are urged to consider how they can use their allocation policies to support those households who want to work, as well as those who – while unable to engage in paid employment - are contributing to their community in other ways, for example, through voluntary work. The flexibilities which authorities are encouraged to make use of to meet the needs of Service personnel would apply equally here. This might involve, for example, framing an allocation scheme to give some preference to households who are in low paid work or employment-related training, even where they are not in the reasonable preference categories; or to give greater priority to those households in the reasonable preference categories who are also in work or who can demonstrate that they are actively seeking work. Alternatively, it might involve using local lettings policies to ensure that specific properties, or a specified proportion of properties, are allocated to households in particular types of employment where, for example, skills are in short supply.

4.28 Authorities should also consider how best they can make use of the new power to offer flexible tenancies to support households who are in low paid work, and incentivise others to take up employment opportunities

By that I might infer that a mother with very young children would be given some credit for, say, running or helping out at a local baby and toddler group.