Comments: Food Poverty in Britain

Should we be thinking of "mutual flourishing" to mean all people getting the calories and vitamins they need to live?

Posted by Shamus at Monday, 18 September 2017 at 5:22pm BST

The Report's findings are are generally applicable to Canada where food banks have become institutionalized. The Canadian context would also support the conclusion that research poses, i.e. ".. a strong challenge to those who argue that growth in food banks has been supply led, driven by the growth of food bank provision itself. This research demonstrates that the experience of food poverty is far more extensive than food bank use..."

The Report asks about the response of churches (p. 14). Churches might augment advocacy and charity with economic development. Increasingly Canadian churches are exploring "property development" to fund buildings with dwindling and aging congregations. It would be interesting to do a "social responsibility audit" of such projects to test to what extent they provide economic opportunities for the marginalized.

The "Kingdom of God/Heaven" is a metaphor describing the justice inherent in community making, which when adapted and updated from its historical context as described by scholars like J.D. Crossan, provides a theological framework not only for critiquing unjust social arrangements but developing tangible economically just ones.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Tuesday, 19 September 2017 at 12:05am BST

How long have the Tories been in power and what has Mrs. May actually done for the Just About Managing? A damning report. Can it really be 60 years since Harold Macmillan said in 1957 - the British people "have never had it so good"? If Supermac came back today I wonder what he would make of all the Food Banks in every major town and city? He certainly could not say of Tory Britain in 2017 as he said in 1957 - "You will see a state of prosperity such as we have never had in my lifetime nor indeed in the history of this country."

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 19 September 2017 at 6:48am BST

It's easy to rant at politicians, and I dare say they deserve some rants. But what about the increasing use of technology and automation resulting in fewer jobs? People lose self respect through unemployment. They lose a sense of purpose. They lose hope. They don't see the point of being bothered. Zombie movies are more than just horror fiction. The CEOs of technology companies need to act for the welfare of those they put out of work, not just their shareholders. And what about the availability of cheap goods from overseas - I am complicit - resulting in fewer jobs at home. At the age of 67 I fear I am gloomy about the immediate future, A cataclysm of some sort - economic, military, biological, social - seems inevitable. And maybe even necessary. It's the sin of the world.

Posted by Stanley Monkhouse at Tuesday, 19 September 2017 at 9:35am BST

Surely politicians are in a position of power to do something about the scandal of Food poverty in Britain? I note that on the whole Food Banks are the initiative of local churches and not one coming from those who stalk the corridors of parliament and who exist in the Westminster bubble.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 19 September 2017 at 9:57am BST

"But what about the increasing use of technology and automation resulting in fewer jobs?"

If we allow the spinning jenny to automate weaving, however will people find work?

Posted by Interested Observer at Tuesday, 19 September 2017 at 10:56am BST

You're quite right IO. Maybe I'm just too old and grumpy to see clearly any more.

Posted by Stanley Monkhouse at Tuesday, 19 September 2017 at 1:43pm BST

Interested Observer,
but it's true, isn't it, that the jobs lost through automation were the one that gave the majority of not academic men employment to feed their families.
What we have now are highly skilled jobs in manufacturing/tech service and jobs in the low-paid and low status service sector.

The question Britain has yet to answer is how to bring meaningful employment back into the former Welsh mining communities, to Boston and to Mansfield, where the biggest employer is Sport Direct.

There's a mismatch between where the jobs are (high tech bikes are being made and serviced in London rather than in Abergavenny) . The Economist identifies Education, Infrastructure and Productivity as the big three that hold the British economy down. I suspect that countries with better vocational training and apprenticeships and with a better industry participation in education do better. But all face the same basic problem – how do you occupy the majority of non-academic people in a post-industrial society.

In the meantime – none of that excuses the need for food banks.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 19 September 2017 at 2:48pm BST

There is no excuse for foodbanks. That's an appalling indictment of a broken community. They are welcome because there's a need (I have kids who come to school with no breakfast). but the fact they need to exist is... kind of disgusting.

The answer, the solution, (I believe) is re-distribution of wealth, so that the resources of the world are shared between *all* the people of the world, and not just a privileged few.

We need to encourage and promote communist values. We basically need to break bread together. We also need to disassociate price and value, and recognise value relates to community, to sharing, and not just giving shareholders profit by other people's labour.

Every single person should - as a human right - have access to decent food, to a home, and access to health. We should have a society that's driven by sharing, and the responsibility to meet social imperatives. And the amassing of assets and wealth should wait until all those imperatives are met.

Is there a case, notwithstanding genuine decent work done by church communities, for suggesting that the Church of England to a degree is a faith body of people who are often pretty comfortable and enjoying the status quo and the benefits of middle-class life and the system that leaves others marooned in poverty, compelled to work long, hard-grinding hours for shit money?

Is charity by itself enough, if we don't seek radical social change and resistance to the dominant economic model that prioritises the economic security of those who already have?

Just my personal thoughts, while recognising others may have very different opinions...

Posted by Susannah Clark at Tuesday, 19 September 2017 at 7:22pm BST

"If we allow the spinning jenny to automate weaving, however will people find work?"

By moving to cities, cramming into slums, and hoping that, if they can't avoid Cholera or industrial injury, at least their children will.

Eight hour working days? Schooling instead of picking the fluff from looms? Mandatory vacations? Crazy talk! The Market is king, and will remain so, with robber barons its high priests. We must stop being naive and face reality.

If I wanted to make a compelling case against restrictions on automation, the human cost of the industrial revolution wouldn't head the list. Allowing automation to drive millions onto the dole isn't inevitable: like toiling dawn to dusk, child labor, and nonexistent workplace safety, it's a deliberate policy choice.

Unless automation creates at least as many jobs as it takes, it can be, and must be, resisted. Not with comedy mobs of Luddites, but with legal restrictions of the kind that swept away all those over allegedly inevitable and irresistible consequences of an unfettered market.

Posted by James Byron at Tuesday, 19 September 2017 at 9:42pm BST

Why regulate jobs into existence that don't need to be there? There is no innate benefit to labour that makes outlawing automation justifiable. The key is to spread the benefits of automation as far as possible. Ultimately that means wealth taxes and going after the tax havens, and probably UBI to boot. Forcing people to sacrifice most of their waking hours doing work that could be done by machine seems utterly iniquitous.

Posted by Jo at Wednesday, 20 September 2017 at 8:13pm BST

"There is no innate benefit to labour that makes outlawing automation justifiable."

On this, we disagree: even setting aside the personal benefits of employment, millions left to languish permanently on the dole would be stripped of independence, left at the mercy of the state. It'd be neo-serfdom, but serfdom without any sense of noblesse oblige, with most of the population reduced to perpetual minority, living at the whim of unfeeling bureaucracy.

Besides, who's talking about "outlawing automation"? Certainly not me: restrictions to ban companies from engineering wholesale unemployment to line their shareholders' pockets won't outlaw something that's been with us for centuries; like minimum wages, safety codes and mandatory benefits, they'll merely curtail the market's worst excesses.

Posted by James Byron at Thursday, 21 September 2017 at 9:43am BST
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