Tag Archives: freeschoolmeals

CHILD POVERTY AND BENEFITS

The latest headlines to hit the news in the UK is that of Marcus Rashford and his inspirational charity work which has raised over 20 million pounds to help provide free school meals for vulnerable people over the summer holidays.

A truly humane effort carried out by a truly generous man. A man who it is clear, has morals and values and seeks to make the world a better place. A man who despite his enormous fame and worth, still makes time for others far less fortunate than himself. An international footballing superstar who remains modest and humble, a quality so forgotten in today’s celebrity world.

However, as seems is the modern trend in this world we live in, with every good deed there are always the people out there chomping at the bit to use it promote their own political views and agenda’s. That use it to help point the finger of blame at someone else. Why is everyone’s default setting to blame someone else? Why is everyone’s default setting to blame the government? Why do people allow themselves to get caught up the media frenzy and and hype that surrounds every single action that takes place in today’s world?

It is tiring and boring and simply needs to end. Not everything in life is someone else’s fault. Not everything in life is the government’s fault. I am not talking about just this current government either, I am talking about any government in power of this country. A government that don’t forget, is elected by a nationwide demographic vote. A vote which best represents the wishes of the people of this country.

The latest criticism, the latest ‘blame game’ is now that of the government and child poverty. That child poverty is the direct result of a lack of empathy and a lack of action from the government. Well I’m sorry but I simply do not agree. Once again people allow the manipulating media and their own anger at the world to cloud their judgement. They allow themselves to be swept up in the powerful world of social media and all the incorrect accusations that come with it.

The facts are this, in England around 1.3 million people from low income backgrounds are eligible for free school meals. A child who qualifies remains eligible until 31 March 2022, whether in primary or secondary education. Children from families who meet certain criteria can also be eligible for free school meals before they start school.

It has now been announced that families claiming free school meals will be issued with either an electronic voucher or gift card – worth £15 per child, per week – to spend at supermarkets, during the school term and throughout the summer holidays.

1.3 million disadvantaged children in England currently have access to free school meals

I simply do not understand people claiming that the government do not care or the government should do more. From what I see this country is far more generous and charitable than most other countries in terms of financial and medical assistance. Where else can you go that provides you with a house purely because you have a child? Where else can you go that provide you with child tax credits purely for having a child? The benefits list in this country is endless – council tax benefits, disability living allowance, housing benefit, incapacity benefit, income support, return to work credit, school uniform allowance – these are just a few of the many types of benefits on offer to people that qualify for them.

I am not for one second saying these people don’t deserve them. Life is all about helping those in a less fortunate situation or those in hardship. I do however, feel that this countries generosity is starting to be taken advantage of, and starting to be seen as a weakness.

The problem with generosity and kindness is eventually people start to exploit and use it for their own selfish gain (the furlough scheme is a PRIME EXAMPLE of this, whereby companies were using it as a money saving exercise rather than a last resort to making people redundant). I find it astounding when people blame child poverty on the government. No-body makes anyone have a child, no-body forces anyone to have a child. Whatever happened to living within your means? I earn an average wage therefore I live an average life in terms of expenditure. I drive an average car, I live in a modest house and I don’t go on endless amounts of holidays. Simply because I can’t afford to. If I could afford to, I probably would.

When me and my wife decided to get a dog we had to sit down and work out whether we could afford to provide for the dog and whether we could devote enough time to him to make it fair. If I wanted to go out and buy a new car tomorrow I would first of all have to sit down with the monthly repayments in mind and calculate if I would be able to afford to make that same payment every single month moving forward. Same principle applies to buying a house or a holiday, and so on and so forth. Why is having a child any different?

Before having a child surely the most important question to ask is – can I (or we) actually afford to pay and provide for this child? Too many people have a child and simply expect the state to provide a life for them. And being the generous, hospitable nation we are, we do provide for them! To have a child and bring them in to this harsh unforgiving world, knowing that you can’t afford to pay for them is simply unfair. Benefits and allowances from the government shouldn’t be a default setting, they should be as backup in case of a dramatic change of circumstances. Of course circumstances do change – people become ill and can no longer work, people lose their job or their mental health, people have accidents or unfortunately become disabled. All unavoidable circumstances, which quite rightly we should support and help with. These are exactly what benefits should be used for.

How is it fair that one person should work 12 hours a day 6 days a week to provide for their family, whilst another person has a family and everything paid for them? Again, I must re-iterate that I am not suggesting people shouldn’t receive benefits, far from it. I am suggesting that benefits, much like the Furlough Scheme, should be offered due to an unfortunate change in circumstances or as an alternative option to going ‘bankrupt’ so to speak. Not as a money saving exercise or a standard option to stay on for the rest of your life.

The benefits system in this country has to be one of the best in the world

Just as the furlough scheme was abused, so it the benefits system. Just as people claimed the furlough scheme wasn’t enough, people claim the benefits system isn’t enough. What do people actually expect? Every single day I drive past people living in houses paid for them by the government or by the council, yet 30 grand cars sitting in their driveway. How many people who moan about child poverty still have sky TV, still have the latest iPhone and still wear designer clothes? How many people truly can’t provide for their children or how many just don’t want to give up the expensive aspects of their life to fund for them?

Too many people I feel, believe the grass is always greener. I have travelled to quite a few countries and I have seen first hand, true child poverty. Children and families forced to live on the street, children that can’t afford access to healthcare or education. That simply doesn’t happen over here. Yet, as with any form of kindness or generosity, over time people come to expect it and forget the thoughtful principles that sit behind it.

I’ve had families members who have been diagnosed with cancer and the government / NHS have provided them with first class treatment, no questions asked. Treatment that had they decided to go private or pay for themselves, would have cost upwards of 100 thousand pounds. I’ve known friends who have lost their jobs and the government have helped pay their mortgage or pay their rent until they found another one. I know people with disabled children who receive tremendous help, support and financial assistance from both the NHS and the government. All just examples of the generosity on offer. Yet still people moan and belly ache and demand more. Still people think they are entitled to more.

Unfortunately life isn’t free and anything or anyone you decide to bring in to this world isn’t free either. Whether you decide to bring a dog or a child in to the world they aren’t free. Whether you decide to buy a car or purchase a house, they aren’t free. If you want to have 4 children no-body is stopping you, however surely it is only fair to yourself, the children and the wider community, that you first of all ensure you are able to provide and pay for those children.

It is simply too easy to have a child and forget about them, or to have a child and pass them off as someone else’s problem. Until that child is 18, until that child has a job and until that child is mature, surely the two people that created that child should fund, support and pay for that child.

The government simply cannot afford to pay for everyone and everything, as much as I wish they could. When you bring a life in to this world, you are doing just that, bringing a living breathing being in to this cold, ruthless world. They are your (along with the other parents) responsibility both financially and emotionally. Mishaps or unfortunate circumstances will sometimes occur along the way and that’s what benefits should be for. For me, people need to start taking responsibility for their actions instead of just blaming others. How is it that England, one of the most charitable and hospitable countries is fast gaining a reputation as one of the least?

What Marcus Rashford has done with his charity work is truly magnificent. Children are innocent and vulnerable and of course deserve to be protected and defended at all costs. The real question for me though, is why are these children in this terrible position in the first place. A position whereby they are forced to rely on government handouts simply to eat? Are they in this position because of a terrible or unfortunate set of circumstances their parents found themselves in? Or are they are in this position due to adults not taking responsibility for their actions and thinking before they bring a human life in to this world?

Having a child is a choice. Having cancer isn’t a choice, becoming disabled isn’t a choice, your mental health deteriorating isn’t a choice, losing your job isn’t a choice. As far as my thinking goes, benefits need to be there for the people that didn’t have a choice in life, who find themselves in the position they are in due to circumstances outside of their control. Let me re-iterate one more time, that children who are living in poverty absolutely deserve access to free meals and support. It is not their fault they are in the position they are in.

Marcus has provided a temporary (albeit amazing) solution to a permanent problem. At some point the problem, as with any problem, needs to be addressed at it’s core to stop it from growing and getting worse. I believe this starts with adults taking responsibility and thinking long and hard about the consequences of their actions before bringing a child in to the world. About whether or not they are truly going to be there to provide the required financial and emotional support for that child for the foreseeable future. I don’t believe that is too much to ask, after all…