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(165 Posts)
gillybob Thu 26-Apr-12 11:20:05

Not sure if this is the right place for this discussion but here goes..... Recent family events have made me question why it is that children in this country still live in poverty. I appreciate that poverty is relative. Yes we have a clean water supply etc. but how can we call ourselves a civilized country when the gap between the "have's" and the "have not's" is becoming wider and wider. On one hand you have people who have so much money they don't know what to do with it and on the other you have families wondering how they are going to feed their children and keep them warm in the winter. Should it not be that if you go to work to provide for your family then your should be-able to do just that, provide for your family. Successive governments seem to miss the fact that those working and on the lowest incomes are more often than not so much poorer than those living on benefits (regardless of age). I find it totally disgusting that a 6 year old child with working parents cannot have milk at school because their parents cannot afford the £10 to pay for it when virtually everyone else in the class has it for free as their parents are on benefits !

Sorry for ranting but I would love to hear your comments on a subject I feel so passionate about.

Joan Thu 26-Apr-12 12:25:02

Yes, the difference between the haves and the have-nots is obscene.

Poverty often arises from a lack of knowledge or experience in budgeting, cooking real dinners, buying or making clothes cheaply etc. People of our generations, baby boomers and earlier and later, were trained to manage, but some young people were simply never taught these skills. Instead, they are surrounded by easily accessible take-aways, overpaid celebrities waffling on about the clothes and make up, and relentless advertising to spend, spend, spend on things they can't afford and don't need.

Then there is the lack of affordable rental homes, poor working conditions, long hours, baby sitting expenses - it never ends. I don't live in the UK, I live in Australia, and when my kids were little and my husband was on a low wage we received government money called 'family income supplement' specially designed to ensure no-one was worse off working than if they were on benefits. Is there nothing like this in the UK?

So what does an overworked, tired, undereducated parent with no home management training do to manage? They don't manage of course. And then they get blamed for getting into debt and being too skint to give their children what they need.

I wish I knew the answer, but one thing is certain: under a Tory government it WILL get worse. They are not of the political persuasion that tries to redistribute wealth so that more reaches the poor. All we can do is help those in our own circle of acquaintance if they will accept it.

I remember years ago when we had two little kids, we exited the supermarket with our week's shopping in the trolley. A young workmate of my husband's was there too, complaining about his huge food bill. When he and his young wife saw our trolley, just as full but having cost half as much, because all our food was basic not processed, his wife asked how we did it. I offered to teach her, and my husband reiterated the offer at work, but they never took it up.

Anagram Thu 26-Apr-12 12:52:28

We used to get FIS in this country too, Joan, when my DD was young and I was working, and it worked very well - it was easy to claim and you knew exactly how much you were entitled to.
Now it's been changed to Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits, which is a much more complicated system which is also exensive to implement.

My daughter claims Child Tax Credits as she's working full time in a poorly paid job and has two children. She just about breaks even most months, paying the mortgage, bills etc.

The woman next door to her, however, also with two children, doesn't work and is on benefits and has repairs to her house etc. done for free - she even persuaded the Council to give the garden a makeover 'because it wasn't fair on the kids and I can't do it!' She can apparently also afford to drink and smoke, and run a car.

flowerfriend Thu 26-Apr-12 13:11:04

I wish I knew the answer to this quandary but I do not. However I do not believe that you can blame it on the Tories as the gap between rich and poor in the UK got wider during the time when Labour was recently in power.

Joan Thu 26-Apr-12 13:12:15

Oh dear - it does seem so unfair. And of course, if you don't work you save an awful lot on work expenses.

Let's hope your daughter gets a pay rise or a better job eventually. Mind you, I feel that the current government are much more likely to cut benefits than encourage higher wages, to get rid of these anomalies.

Anagram Thu 26-Apr-12 13:17:10

Indeed, and it was Gordon Brown who introduced the over-complicated Tax Credits system for working people, while increasing benefits for those who didn't work.
I know there are areas where genuine poverty is rife, but the way governments judge 'child poverty' seems nonsensical - there is a list of criteria, including holidays and (I think) things like video games that if a child does not have, he or she is said to be in poverty...confused

gillybob Thu 26-Apr-12 14:19:30

I don't blame any particular government for this situation I blame them all. In my opinion the criteria for poverty is difficult. Should a working family be-able to afford heating, food and clothing for their children? Yes but there again so should a family on benefits. But there needs to be some incentive to get up in the morning and go to work. Many families are just surviving at the minute and its awful. No wonder there are so many suffering from depression and drinking too much, when things look so hopeless and quality of life is diminished .

I still can't understand why school meals and milk is not free for all children within the state school system of England. It is in Scotland. then at least all children would be ensured of a decent meal during term time.

Charlotta Thu 26-Apr-12 18:11:24

As I have said before on GN, I was an unmarried mother on Social Security which is now Benefits. I was also an educated young woman and have never in all my life needed that good head I have on my shoulders, more than then.

Those were hard years before I worked and eventually got married and then we were a family with a decent income. Sometimes when I wheel my trolley through the checkout I get asked if I am slimming! Just because, as Joan mentioned, my trolley is full of fruit and veg and no pizza etc and fizzy drinks.

When you work in a charity shop you see people who don't buy a good jacket because a button is missing. Where are home management skills going to come from? Any government knows that for a certain standard of living about 9% will be poor just as another 9 % are filthy rich. They know that but of course don't say it. It will not alter, more likely more will drop below the poverty line.
They should give free milk to all children or not at all. Margaret Thatcher stopped that! Now we hear that Rickets has returned. In Geman the name for Rickets is English Disease.
Its very upsetting.

specki4eyes Fri 27-Apr-12 13:31:23

I agree with everything everyone has said, except that the Tories create poverty. It is powerful and incompetent politicians who create poverty, regardless of their political persuasion. We saved in a pension scheme for 25 years in order to be independent and comfortable in our retirement. Gordon Brown as Chancellor stole our pension fund to prop up his failures. We now receive less than a fifth of what we saved every month for.

The five year political system is the root cause of the bad management of our country. Political parties gain power, then they blame the previous adminstration for all the problems during their first term. After a second term in office (if granted) they then become corrupted by power and start bleeding the electorate dry. Then they get thrown out, the other party gets in and the whole cycle starts all over again. Its utter madness. How can the country ever get back to growth and prosperity under this system?

Youngsters go to school and get A stars for everything, but they can't DO anything! They get degrees but they don't know how to do the most basic things necessary for day to day life - cook a meal from scratch, sew on a button, check the oil in the car, change a tap washer. I'm not saying schools should teach them these things necessarily but they could at least have one hour a week when the kids learned about practical matters. When you have to buy pre-prepared meals or get a mechanic to rescue you because the car ran dry of oil or get a plumber out to mend a leaking tap - all those things cost money. One of my DILs doesnt know how to clean a house even to preserve basic hygiene standards. When the GCs get infections she's off to the doctor for antibiotics.

In our youth, we could do all those things and did. We had to! Apart from anything else, most of us wouldnt have WANTED to live on handouts. But now they perceive them as entitlements!

GRR !!! must stop I'm winding myself up!

gangy5 Fri 27-Apr-12 16:15:02

I echo all or your sentiments specki4eyes - how right you are. I think that it is a very important fact to point out how destructive these 5 year terms of government are. It would not be so bad if important policies were made cross party and then there would be a sensible and progressive way forward. Policies are altered every 5 years if different parties get in.

I thought that the Labour party were for the poor and working class but I don't think we saw any improvement in this direction during their 13 years of office. Lets face it - they had ample time.

Charlotta Fri 27-Apr-12 19:09:44

Ideally the parents should teach basic skills but failing that somehow they should be taught to do things for themselves. It would help if they could read instructions. On TV there's alway a big laugh about putting an IKEA cupboard together and you get the impression its fine if you can't do it.
I have fixed a whole IKEA kitchen. If you can follow steps 1,2,ad 3 then you can do it.
You have to start early and let small children do something real and turn the b* TV off. That doesn't prevent people from becoming poor but it helps the poor if they can at least take some control of their life and situation. We all thought that Labour was better for the poor but it was New Labour that got in and they just didn't bother.
I agree with what has been said so far. It would be good idea if schools etc could be left alone to make the best of what is available without every government wanting to put its stamp on Education as if that was the answer to everything. Teachers lives have been made impossible with paper work and as many of them have these modern -- know a lot, but can't do much, degrees-- then the outlook is dim.

Mishap Fri 27-Apr-12 22:35:49

I always find it slightly puzzling that the multitude of cookery programmes are so popular, but so many people buy ready meals.

I know that my Ds' cookery lessons were more about marketing the "product" than providing healthy nourishment for your family. I remember them having to take in the ingredients for different pizzas 3 weeks running to their cookery class (well I say ingredients, but they had to take a readymade base and some trimmings to put on top) and then they had to design packaging and a marketing strategy for each one. Seemed a bit weird to me!!
Having said that they all enjoy cooking now and cook with their children too.

I am ashamed to say that my Ds cannot sew and send stuff to me to be altered - mind you it could just be that they know I enjoy it, so they never had to bother to learn - mea culpa!

Some of the families who do not manage are often those where the parents themselves do not have home-making skills to pass on - maybe because everyone was out at work and did not have time for work in the home.

Heaven knows what the answer is!

whenim64 Fri 27-Apr-12 23:15:15

I agree that children should be taught these skills both at home and at school. My 12 year old grandson recently asked if he could make chicken nuggets as they were doing the recipe at school and he could give me the list of ingredients. What he meant was just that - they wrote the recipe out!

I had all the basic ingredients in and showed him how to make breadcrumbs in the blender, then he cut up the chicken, floured, egged and breadcrumbed it under my supervision, put them in the oven and ate them. He said he never did anything like that, at home or at school.

How on earth are children supposed to learn these skills if we don't help them? My children all learned to do their own laundry from the age of 13, and did quite a bit of cooking at home. The boys have become great cooks, but both girls rely on their partners to cook, and will happily do lots of other household tasks in return, but despite me showing them all, not one of them knows how to sew a button on. They are so used to buying disposable clothes that they get rid of as soon as they need a zip or button sorting out, and will turn to me if they want a hem turning up. I suppose if it was fashionable to sew, knit and darn they would take the trouble to learn, but recession doesn't seem to influence them. Puzzling!

Joan Fri 27-Apr-12 23:36:43

Although I'm dyed-in-the-wool Labour, I agree with the politics content of the above posts. Labour here in Australia and in the UK from Blair's New Labour have just been too right wing, and none of them, so-called Labour or Tories, have been able to get things right for ordinary people It is all about banks and big business and courting media barons. We need a political party that works for people at least as much as it works for business. We used to have them under the likes of Harold Wilson in the UK, and Bob Hawke here in Oz.

Meanwhile society , or should I say people like us, have to do the best we can in an increasingly divided and unjust world, led by privileged, selfish, expensively privately educated, elitist idiots. Maybe we should offer to teach our grandchildren the practical skills.

I have written a play for our U3A performing group called 'Solar Dawn of the Baby Boomers' - well, it is in the process of being written. It is all about a solar storm that knocks out all the electronics, including every single circuit board, and electricity grids. (This IS a scientific possibility). No-one can cope except for us oldies, who grew up in a pre-electronic age, so we are called upon to teach the old skills to kids at school, and in the workforce. I've written it as a comedy, because otherwise it would be just too worthy. Trouble is, I find myself wanting to live in the world I'm creating, without posh cars (only the old ones will work), TV, computers, electricity......

Annobel Fri 27-Apr-12 23:44:40

Joan - in the world you've created, how could Gransnet exist? wink

Joan Sat 28-Apr-12 01:35:33

I know, Annobel - that's the real problem. Before phones in every home and everything, Mum and her sister, who lived about 50 miles apart, used to communicate by postcard, eg 'Ive got a postcard from your Aunty Dot - they're visiting next Sunday'. Then Aunt Dot and Uncle Sid and our two cousins would arrive by bus. Anyway, I can't see us continuing Gransnet by postcard, hmm so I'll ensure that computers and the internet are the first things to come back on line!!

Faye Sat 28-Apr-12 02:45:29

Your play sounds like a winner Joan. I can imagine a world in only twenty years time where today's babies talk in astonishment about their parents throw away society. Today's babies having to learn from their grandparents how to grow their own fruit and vegetables, to knit and sew and how to cook without processed food. Today's babies happy their grandparents overthrew the useless, greedy governments only twenty years previously. Where were today's babies own parents, why watching television and partying on. smile

Joan Sat 28-Apr-12 03:30:24

Sounds good, Faye. Roll on!!

petallus Sat 28-Apr-12 09:31:15

Knowing how to cook properly, growing own vegetables etc. is desirable for a number of reasons. Not sure how much money would actually be saved though. Probably not enough to make much difference to a real poverty situation.

As for making your own clothes, well I just couldn't see any of my four grandsons going around in home-made jeans and tee-shirts!!

petallus Sat 28-Apr-12 09:33:24

Come to think of it, it would probably cost more to buy the material than to get cheap jeans from Primark. It is certainly true that you can buy sweaters etc. more cheaply than you can knit them yourself.

Granb Sat 28-Apr-12 10:25:18

Two of my sisters had children at the same time as DH and I. The interest rate had shot up to 15% and each of our families were living on one wage. None of us claimed any benefits apart from Family Allowance. Things were really difficult but.... we bulk shopped together (those were the days before supermarkets were too cynical with their offers), we bought whole animals from local butchers and shared them out, bought sacks of potatoes (which are a fraction of the price) and ate a lot of vegetables, pulses, rice and pasta. All of us cooked from scratch and, as the children were somewhat interchangeable, were always able to feed extra numbers.

We spent days out on long walks all together would come home and sit down to each together, we went to the beach and sat furthest away from anything that would cost money. My children thought they were poor because we did not have a microwave or a video (still don't have microwave), but they will all acknowedge that they are rich in memories and when all the cousins get together they are always full of "do you remembers"

imjingl Sat 28-Apr-12 10:44:01

When my girls were very small I used to make them warm trousers from the sleeves of old jumpers. They were lovely and warm for them. Just for playing in the, then, very muddy in the garden. grin

That is apropos of nothing at all. No connection with OP.

imjingl Sat 28-Apr-12 10:44:45

My posting is going to pot. hmm

goldengirl Sat 28-Apr-12 10:47:17

We used to have a 'flat' at my school in the Domestic Science room and took turns to clean (1) the dining room and (2) the bathroom - after we'd had a bath in it! The efforts were inspected by the teacher and comments made. We also made 'proper' food which I wasn't particularly good at because of the time pressures but managed to scrape through my O level and have the opportunity to attend a special Stork demonstration that was held at school. I still have - and use - the cookery book that was given to the attendees. Our text book for Domestic Science was the ATDS book and I still have a copy - very basic and very useful, even though I now prefer Nigella. In the 6th form the boys could do cookery and the girls woodwork if they wished and this was the 1950s / 1960s.

As for sewing I used to make my clothes and those of the children - by hand until I got a machine yet at school I was always unpicking my efforts.

This was a Grammar School but at the local Secondary School they had similar activities but also horticulture and farming [it was a rural community].

Why this can't be done today I do not know. I didn't realise though at the time how useful it was going to be and perhaps that is a good point. Today young people have to see the advantages straight away or else they're 'bored'.

Annobel Sat 28-Apr-12 11:02:50

Our cookbook, in those days of post-war austerity was called the Dundee Cookery Book. We learnt to make cheese potatoes - tasty and not hard to do! and cheese pudding which I think involved breadcrumbs. The Irish stew was so awful that when I took it home the dog rejected it, but we made a surprisingly good Christmas pud. We also had to do laundry - I almost remember how to iron a lace hanky, not that I have many of those. I don't think I learnt anything my mother hadn't already done with me, but that's what mums did sixty years ago. I have given my senior GD a lot of opportunities to cook and bake in my kitchen and now, at the age of 20, she is a proficient cook and I'm proud of her. And she's much better at clearing up after herself than I am.