Global wealth and local poverty: The latest evidence

Two stories from today’s news reinforce the picture of gross inequalities and growing contrasts in the fortunes of global rich and local poor.  Things can only get better?

north_southStory One: “Soaring property prices and confident stock markets help swell ranks of global super-rich.” 

More than 1.7 million people joined the ranks of the global super-rich last year.  To qualify as ‘super-rich’ requires ‘investable assets’ of more than $1 million (£600,000) – not including your main home, art collection or vintage car(s).

In Britain the numbers in this elite ‘club’ went up by more than 10 percent just in the past 12 months, to 527,000.  This equates to just under one percent of the total population.   Unsurprisingly, the majority of Britons joining the club have done so as a result of rising property prices.

Just in case you think the UK is an exception, the total number of ‘High Net Worth Individuals’ is a record 13.7 million worldwide.  Just four countries – the US, Germany, Japan – and China – are home to 60 percent of them, with Asia-Pacific the fastest growing region.

And their total net worth is forecast to grow by a further $11.7 trillion over the next 3 years…

Story two: “major study shows UK poverty doubled in 30 years.”

Meanwhile, back in Blighty, the most detailed study ever of poverty in the UK has revealed that the number of British households falling below the minimum living standards has more than doubled in the past 30 years.

The Poverty and Social Exclusion project, led by Bristol University, has found amongst a wealth of other things, that:

  • one third of households go without three or more ‘basic necessities of life’
  • 5.5 million adults go without essential clothing
  • 2.5 million children live in damp homes
  • 1.5 million children live in households who can’t afford to heat them
  • one in five adults have to borrow to pay for day to day needs.
  • a majority of children experiencing multiple deprivation are in a family with someone in work.

And finally: But for the welfare state the UK would be THE most unequal advanced western economy in the world.

And just to cheer you up further, I was at a presentation this morning on ‘the economics of inequality’ at which Ruth Lupton of Manchester University showed the following slide – which reveals that, but for the welfare state, the UK would be the number one most unequal developed western economy.

Inequality in advanced western economies - prior to tax and welfare transfers

Before taking into account the redistributive effects of taxation and benefits, the UK ranks more unequal than our 18 nearest competitor developed nations – more unequal even than the United States.  Ruth’s full presentation is available here.

Just one more reason to speak up as loudly and clearly as we can in defence of taxation and the welfare state…


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Breadline Britain: Why I’m angry

Below the BreadlineThere are few things that make me genuinely angry, but this week has been one of them.

On Monday, Church Action on Poverty, Oxfam and Trussell Trust published Below the Breadline – an expose of crisis of food poverty and hunger that increasing numbers are facing across the UK. Channel 4’s Breadline Kids did exactly the same thing.

But what have the political classes been discussing this week? Not why so many people are going hungry, but a tweet.

MPs, columnists, and today, the Deputy Prime Minister have been lining up to fulminate about the outrageous fact that Oxfam tweeted an image of the Perfect Storm. No matter that it only had ten words on it. No matter that it didn’t anywhere on the tweet say (or even imply) that the Coalition is responsible for the perfect storm. No matter that it is actually based on a well argued and reasoned Oxfam report published two years ago.  No matter that all the things listed in the ‘Perfect Storm’ (unemployment, zero-hours contracts, high prices, benefit cuts and childcare costs are patently things which people in poverty are self-evidently struggling with).  Which of these is a charity committed to tackling poverty in the UK not expected (or allowed) to mention?

But what of the scandalous fact that a million people had to turn to foodbanks to be fed in the sixth wealthiest country on the planet?

As one of the principle authors of Below the Breadline, I am not angry on my own part, but for the way in which the artificial storm blown up over a single tweet has obscured a debate about the real issue that Oxfam, Church Action on Poverty, Trussell Trust and indeed Channel 4, were seeking to highlight this week.

People are going without food, and all some politicians and commentators care about is a tweet.  

And just for the record, and the Deputy Prime Minister’s benefit, Below the Breadline is not an attack on the Government’s austerity programme. It isn’t actually an attack on the Government at all.

Below the Breadline is a cry for an informed and adult debate about how we tackle the crisis of food poverty and hunger in the UK.

I’m not asking for politicians of any colour to agree with everything we said in the report. But I would hope that they would at least be willing to engage with the real questions – and want to come up with real answers for the thousands of families who can’t look forward to being able to put a meal on the table for their kids this weekend.

At the moment, it feels like we’re a million miles from that.

And that’s what makes me angry.

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Below the Breadline and the Perfect Storm: Speaking truth to power

Below the BreadlineOn Monday, our latest report on food poverty and hunger – hit the headlines again. Published jointly with Oxfam and Trussell Trust, Below the Breadline highlights the further escalation in the numbers of people requiring emergency food aid over the past year – and the increasingly threadbare nature of the supposed welfare safety net.

Its publication was timed to coincide with Channel 4’s excellent Breadline Kids documentary, broadcast on Monday evening (and still available on 4oD). Breadline Kids tells the true story of food poverty and hunger from the perspective of children and young people. And whilst I’m proud of Below the Breadline, to be honest, the young people’s testimonies have far more power to convey the true awfulness of what food poverty and hunger means to those who experience it at firsthand.

Our task as churches is not only to pull people out of the river, but to ask who or what is throwing them in in the first place.

Both Below the Breadline and Breadline Kids are unashamedly hard hitting. We are facing a situation in which increasing numbers of families and children are going hungry – a fact attested to by churches, foodbanks, advice agencies, public health officers in every corner of the UK. Watching Breadline Kids makes is extremely uncomfortable. And neither is Below the Breadline intended to be a comfortable read.

Church Action on Poverty, like Oxfam, is a resolutely non-party political organisation – but we do have a duty to draw attention to the hardship suffered by poor people we work with in the UK.

How and why is it that, in the sixth wealthiest country on the planet, children are going to bed hungry?

Alongside the heroic work of foodbanks, what is the proper role of the state in preventing hunger? What happened to the idea of the welfare safety net? Alongside the long-term impacts of economic crisis, recession, low pay and rising prices and debts, what have been the impacts of the Government’s welfare reforms, and austerity measures?   What part do sanctions, benefit delays and administrative errors play?

These are rightly questions which as individuals, charities and churches we have a moral duty to ask – and to seek answers to. To ask such questions is not a sign of ‘political partisanship’ but of basic moral duty and concern for human dignity.

Church Action on Poverty is driven by a passionate belief in the dignity of all human beings.  A belief that has been central to Christian belief for the past 2,000 years and an idea that has helped shape the development of the modern British state and society.

We have a proud tradition in this country of concern for the plight of the poor and the vulnerable. It could be described as one of the core values of what it is to be British.

If any of us fell on hard times, through misfortune, sickness, unemployment, low pay or yes, even though an act of rashness, misjudgement or stupidity on our part, we would hope that, failing all else, the safety net would prevent us – or our families, friends or children – slipping into destitution and hunger. Even the Victorian poor law and the dreaded workhouse guarantee that. And slaying the giant evil of want was part of the founding vision of the modern welfare state.

Below the Breadline calls on all political parties to re-commit to the principle of the welfare safety net, and to come up with a workable programme for radically reducing the numbers who need to go to food banks.

To be sure, the shape of the safety net needs to look different in 2014 than it did in 1997 or 1979, let alone 1945. But I have heard no politician of any political party say that there is no longer a need for a safety net.

Different political parties can rightly have different views on how to tackle poverty and hunger, but to claim that any attempts to raise the issue of food poverty and hunger is somehow ‘too political’ demeans politics, and does a huge disservice to those going hungry.

The argument is not about party politics but about how we tackle poverty and hunger together, and about the proper role of faith, charity and Government (of any political persuasion) in this task.

The question fundamentally comes down to this: Do we want to live in a civilised society which ensures that no one need go hungry in the sixth richest country on the planet, or do we not?

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Launching the Good Society Conversation

Listening to the periphery at the heart of Westminster

Good Society Converstaion launch, May 2014There was something intensely symbolic and powerful about yesterday’s launch of the Good Society Conversation by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and Church Action on Poverty:

Eighty people packed into the Cardinal Hume Centre’s children’s centre, a stone’s throw from Westminster’s power places – Parliament, Whitehall, Abbey and Cathedral – yet somehow a million miles away from the formalities of what now passes for conventional ‘report launches’ or political debate.

Good Society conversations always start with listening at the periphery

As Cardinal Nichols eloquently said in his keynote speech, ‘The Good Society conversations always start with listening at the periphery. But the periphery is not always geographically distant, but rather people or places which feel distant from power.’

And the huge energy in the room came precisely from listening to the stories and voices of those living and working in the peripheries:

Kim Mathews, manager of STAK at Good Society Conversation launchKim Mathews, centre manager of St Austell’s Community Kitchen in Cornwall – a thriving café at the heart of the community, bursting at the seams, offering an extended family of friendship and support to those who would otherwise be isolated. “What makes for a Good Society: Respecting and caring for one another.”

Andi Smith, minister of Saltley Methodist Church, who responded to the realisation that women in their diverse community in Birmingham had nowhere to meet together, by helping to establish the ‘Remnants’ group: Local women, Muslim, Christian and of no particular faith, sewing together, learning new skills, but above all listening to, sharing and affirming each others’ stories. “People from different backgrounds help us see what we can’t see in ourselves, but the truth is that the church has not learned enough from projects like Remnants.”

Paula Tabakin, member of All Souls Church, Belfast with her partner and young daughter – a community in which she feels ‘beloved’, a church offering spiritual refuge to people who are hurt and excluded elsewhere.

Margaret Reynolds, longstanding Church Action on Poverty community activist from Meadowell, North Tyneside, recounting a forty year struggle – in the face of the failures of successive Governments – to bring hope to her extended family and community. And now, in face of absent local politicians, herself standing in the council elections to represent the community she lives in.

Out of such people, stories and communities is a Good Society fashioned

The Good Society: All people are of fundamentally intrinsic worth – an antidote to a society which values people only for what they are worth

Is such a vision of the Good Society the antidote to the hollowed out conversations and failed politics – of left and right – of recent years? Such was the challenge posed by Maurice Glasman, ex-community organiser and living wage campaigner – and now enobled member of the House of Lords? “If we are to forge the Common Good we need to learn to live with tensions and face up to the arguments in a relational way. We need to challenge elites and build a politics based on people who represent communities where they live.”

Faith traditions are well placed to take on this challenge, because we have a radically different notion of human value and the Good Society, according to Elizabeth Oldfield, director of the think tank Theos: “Unlike others who value people only in terms of wealth, work, education or ‘hotness’, we believe that people are fundamentally of intrinsic worth.”

The Good Society: A potential to fill a void in politics and public services

Echoing all that had gone before, Caroline Slocock of Civil Exchange, endorsed the call: “Our task is to fashion a new politics and language of the Common Good. The Good Society conversation has the potential to fill a void in politics and public services.”

So what are your thoughts on the Good Society?

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and Church Action on Poverty will be gathering the stories and views of all those who take part in the Good Society Conversation together over the coming months. These will help to inform what the Churches say together nationally in the run up to the UK General Election – but the Good Society is also something that all of us have a stake in just as importantly in our own neighbourhoods, villages, towns and cities across Britain and Ireland.

The Good Society Conversation: Now its over to you…

Good SocietyThe Good Society report and website explores what these questions mean to ordinary folk in seven communities across the UK – but now is the time for you to take part…

If you were to have a local ‘Good Society’ conversation with someone in your community tomorrow, who would it be? Which periphery would you start from, and who else – church leaders, politicians or others – might you invite to join in?

Download the handy guide to holding your own Good Society Conversation – and let us know how you get on!


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Entering the Wilderness: Come join the winning side

wildernessWe live in bleak times. We are bombarded by bad news.  At times we may feel discouraged, hopeless and impotent in the face of spending cuts and rising prices, whose impacts are bearing increasingly heavily on the lives of the some of poorest and most vulnerable in our communities. In a bleak climate, whither do we turn?  I, for one, don’t have all the answers – but here are a few thoughts.

Hearing the cry of the poor: A community of faith?

If we are entering a period in the Wilderness, do we need to return to our roots?  To find ways of embodying the core values and beliefs that many of us hold dear?  As Christians, these must surely include a duty to speak up for the poorest and most vulnerable  – articulating God’s bias to the poor – naming injustice as an act of faith and discipleship.

In a society which has seemingly lost its moral compass, can we find ways together of being a beacon for an alternative set of values? Can we find ways of becoming a community, for those who feel isolated, downtrodden, and (sadly) sometimes even ‘outsiders’ in their own church for holding true to such beliefs?  Surely there is no task more important for those of us who seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth?

Speaking truth to power:  A community of witness?

Secondly, are there ways we an act as a community of public witness:  not just ‘speaking’ out, but offering a voice to those who are, normally, voiceless and marginalised? ‘Speaking truth to power’ is always counter-cultural and certainly a challenge to the ‘powers’ of the world. Even if no change is brought about as a result are not such ‘acts of witness’ intrinsically valuable?  It has certainly been encouraging in this regard to see church leaders from across the denominations speaking out strongly and persistently in the past few weeks about the growth of poverty and hunger, and the erosion of the welfare safety net which we all have to rely on when times get hard.  But what of our own role in such a community of witness?

Change agents: A community of solidarity?

Thirdly, is there also a role for us as agents of change?  I know from my work with Church Action on Poverty that empowering people with the skills and confidence to speak and act in their own right – can transform their own well-being, and lives and livelihoods are changed as a result.  More than this, through acting together we are able to bring about concrete changes in policies and institutions which affect peoples’ lives on a larger scale.

But, in the face of a Government determined to force through the deepest cuts in a generation, whilst denying that these cut have anything to do with the huge growth in foodbanks and hunger, it can feel like no change is possible: What happens if our actions appear to have no meaningful impact?

Taking the long view…

The end of slavery, the end of segregation, the end of apartheid… Each only came about as the result of a long struggle against a clear injustice (at least clear in the minds of those opposing it), a determined movement combining those directly affected and those whose faith drove them to campaign for the rights of others, and a passionate belief that another world was possible.  Even when all appeared to be hopeless, the candle of hope burned bright and in each case, the movement survived, regrouped and came back for more.

So let us not become disheartened.  As we enter the Wilderness, let us take the long view.  Let’s hold true to our faith, be steadfast in our witness, and courageous in our acts of solidarity.

Desmond-Tutu-001As Desmond Tutu famously said, in the face of the seemingly all powerful apartheid regime – ‘you may have the guns, you may have all this power, but you have already lost. Come: join the winning side.’ 

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This is about truth and justice

image_miniChurch leaders speak with unprecedented united voice on welfare and food poverty

Church leaders from across the denominational spectrum have spoken out powerfully and with one voice to challenge the Government’s narrative on welfare, destitution and food poverty over the past week.

In 20 years its hard to think of any other issue on which such a breadth of church leaders from across the denominations have spoken out so clearly and powerfully from the same hymn sheet (as it were).

Nicols: Welfare cuts a ‘disgrace’ that has ripped apart nation’s safety net

nichols2014Cardinal Vincent Nicols led the way, a week ago, criticised the Government’s welfare cuts, calling them a “disgrace” and arguing that a safety net for the country’s most poor has been removed. The now Cardinal Nichols added that because of a punitive administration system, some people are being left with no resources for several weeks, relying instead on food banks.

43 Church leaders sign letter in support of End Hunger Fast

On Thursday, 43 Anglican, Methodist, Quaker and United Reformed Church leaders signed a joint open letter published in the Daily Mirror, which equally did not mince its words:

“We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must “heat or eat” each winter, harder than those faced by families whose wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.
Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using foodbanks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.
There is an acute moral imperative to act. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing so already, as they set up and support foodbanks across the UK. But this is a national crisis, and one we must rise to.”

27 Anglican Bishops signed the letter, with many of them following up by taking to the airwaves on local and national tv and radio and in local papers to reinforce their support for the letter.

Archbishops of Canterbury, past and present, join the call

Justin WelbyIn the face of criticism of the Cardinal’s remarks from David Cameron and Nick Clegg, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, weighed into the fray, saying that Vincent Nichols was giving voice to an ‘upswell of feeling’ in communities with his warning that benefit cuts are leaving the poor facing ‘hunger and destitution.’

Rowan Williams, the ex Archbishop of Canterbury, added his voice on Friday, stating that:

“People who are using food banks are not scroungers who are cynically trying to work the system. They are drawn from the six million working poor in this country, people who are struggling to make ends meet in low paid or bitty employment.”

Methodist President: This is about truth and justiceruth-gee

And on Saturday, the President of the Methodist Conference, Rev Ruth Gee, posted a powerful blog entitled Trampling the head of the poor into the dust of the earth

It wasn’t acceptable in the time of Amos (8th century BC) and it isn’t acceptable now.
This isn’t about party politics.
This isn’t about scoring points.
This is about basic morality.
This is about according respect to human beings.
This is about feeding the hungry.
This is about facing up to the fact of our divided society, recognising inequality and injustice and doing something about it.
This is about truth and justice.

With church leaders from Wales and Scotland adding their voice, to date, there has not been a single church leader anywhere in the UK expressing a dissenting voice.

On this issue, the Churches are clear and united:  This is about respect for human beings, feeding the hungry, facing up to a divided society.  It is about truth and justice.

Next week sees the launch of the End Hunger Fast – sign up now!

Ash Wednesday next week (5 March) sees the launch of the End Hunger Fast – an unparallel opportunity for the churches – and others – to speak and act together with one mind.  If you haven’t signed up to the End Hunger Fast , do so now!

For those who doubted that the Churches – when the speak with one voice – can have a powerful national impact – and force politicians to think again about the policies which are having such a destructive impact on the lives of thousands in communities across the country – think again.

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End Hunger Fast: Government must act to tackle the nation’s food poverty crisis

The Government’s failure to take seriously the nation’s growing food poverty crisis has come under the spotlight today, with the launch of the End Hunger Fast campaign.

The Government finally released its oimage_miniwn long-suppressed report into food aid overnight, in response to the publication of a joint Open letter from 43 Church leaders published in the Daily Mirror this morning.

The report, commissioned almost a year ago from the Food Ethics Council by the Department for Food and Rural Affairs, confirms the growing demand for foodbanks is driven by people in crises situations, and directly refutes the Governments claims that it is caused by the growing number of foodbanks.

The DEFRA report states that “the most feed insecure households do not always turn to food aid.  The evidence suggests that turning to food aid is a strategy of last resort, when households have exhausted all other strategies.”

Worryingly, in the nine months since the report took its ‘snapshot’ last March, the situation has dramatically worsened, with many foodbanks reporting a doubling or trembling in demand since April.

Cameron and Clegg remain in denial over the impact of welfare changes

Most worrying of all has been the response of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to the Church Leaders statement that there is now an acute moral imperative to act in the face of a growing national crisis.

The Prime Minister, in claiming that ‘cutting benefits is the morally right thing to do’ has completely failed to gauge the seriousness of the situation facing hundreds of thousands across the country.  Whilst there are merits in the Government’s commitment to reform the welfare system, and to make work pay, there is nothing moral in cutting benefits for people who are already struggling to make ends meet.

The comments by Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, on LBC radio today, again fail to address the reality that the Government’s own punitive policies are exacerbating an already difficult situation that thousands are facing on a daily basis.  As Cardinal Vincent Nichol’s statement alluded to last week, over 800,000 people have had their benefits deliberately withdrawn as a result of an increasingly punitive sanctions regime, causing untold harm to families across the country.

This country has a proud tradition of protecting the poorest and most vulnerable.  We have all grown up with an understanding that if we fall on hard times, the welfare safety net will protect us from going hungry.  Sadly, for increasing numbers of people, that welfare safety net is no longer a reality.

The pendulum has swung far too far towards a punitive approach to people in poverty.  It is time to restore the principles of dignity, decency to the way we respond to those who fall on hard times.

We are not a poor nation who cannot afford to look after those who struggle.  We remain the seventh wealthiest nation on the planet.  In a week when it was revealed that sales of Ferraris in the UK outstripped those in any other EU country, it is right for the nation’s Church Leaders to challenge those in authority to think again.

It is time to End Hunger Fast.

Sign up to show you care at

Fast and donate

Please consider using the End Hunger Fast to raise funds for our work to tackle hunger. Your donations will pay for us to run public hearings, where people testify about their experiences of going hungry. Their evidence will form part of an Independent National Inquiry, which will make recommendations for how we can tackle the scandal of hunger.

Simply donate the money you would otherwise have spent on food.

Simply give us the money you would have spent on food.


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Join the End Hunger Fast

image_miniThe End Hunger Fast is an invitation to join with others in fasting in solidarity with the increasing numbers in communities across the UK who cannot afford to eat. Sign up now at

The Christian tradition of Lent has long been at this time to fast, and by doing so draw closer to our neighbour and closer to God.  This year, we will begin a time of fasting while half a million regularly go hungry in Britain.

According to the latest research, over four million people in the UK do not have access to a healthy diet – including half a million children; people who are forced to live on an inadequate diet have a significantly increased risk of developing serious health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. They are also more likely to suffer from stress, ill health, poor educational attainment and shortened life expectancy.

The rising cost of living combined with austerity cuts is forcing poor families to choose whether to pay their bills or put food on the table.  Food banks and charities are currently meeting the essential needs of many families and individuals in crisis, feeding adults and children who would otherwise have nothing to eat.  Over 500,000 people were forced to turn to food banks to feed themselves last year.  The likelihood is that this number will top one and a half million people this year, as the impact of benefit cuts and austerity start to bite every deeper into already stretched household budgets.

In his book, ‘The Spirituality of Fasting’, Charles M Murphy says, ‘Social charity is the defining characteristic of Christian fasting. One of the main reasons Christians fast is to fight against innate human selfishness and possessiveness, and to resist the social forces that drive us to consume more and more of the earth’s resources at the expense of the poor. They fast to practice solidarity with the poor by practicing the virtue of temperance’.

Resisting selfishness and possessiveness within ourselves is important, but equally so is the imperative to work to remedy unjust structures; to campaign for justice, especially in all aspects of food production, distribution and consumption.

One of the most powerful biblical injunctions about fasting comes from the prophet Isaiah, who clearly rejects fasting if it is not accompanied by a true change in how we live:

‘Is not this the fast I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?’ (Isaiah 58: 6 –7)

We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must “heat or eat” each winter or harder than those faced by families who’s wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.

Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using foodbanks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.

The End Hunger Fast is therefore both a personal and a public act of solidarity:  A personal commitment to go without food for a meal, a day, one day a week throughout Lent – as your circumstances and your heath permit.  But also a very visible and joint public statement by all those who join the End Hunger Fast – to call on government to do its part: acting to investigate food markets that are failing, to make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger.

Dom Helder Camara once famously wrote, “When I give food to the poor they call me a saint; when I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist.” In fasting we rediscover our hungry neighbours and, with them, call in to question a government and the corporations that use hunger as a weapon against the poor.

Join the End Hunger Fast at

I am endebted to Keith Hebden and Alison Webster for the use of material they have prepared on Lent and Fasting in the writing of this article.

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2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Christmas Greetings George: Britain isn’t Eating

Christmas Greetings George: Britain Isn’t Eating!

Britain isn't Eating - at George Osborne's constituency office

This morning a small group visited George Osborne’s constituency office in Knutsford, Cheshire, to deliver 120 Christmas cards from users of foodbanks across Greater Manchester – together with a copy of the Walking the Breadline report and the following letter:

Dear George

Please find enclosed a copy of the report Walking the Breadline, which will not make happy Christmas reading.  It is estimated that at least 60,000 people will be going hungry this Christmas.

As you will be aware, the numbers of people turning to foodbanks has more than trebled since April, and the biggest reason given for this increase has been changes and cuts to welfare payments.

We are proud to have grown up in a country with a long tradition of ensuring that people who fall on hard times do not and up hungry and destitute.  Sadly, for far too many people neither work, nor the Welfare State, provides adequate protection against hunger.

Even in these times of austerity, we consider it to be a national disgrace that so many of our fellow citizens are going hungry.  One of the primary functions of Government must surely be to take measures to ensure that all its citizens are able to adequately feed themselves.

As Chancellor of the Exchequer, we encourage you to reflect on these matters this Christmastide.

Christmas Goodwill and Peace to you!

Britain isn't eating poster

You can order your own A2 copy of our Britain Isn’t Eating poster to deliver to your MP by emailing Liam Purcell.

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