IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Years of cuts are food for thought as we go to the polls

13 December, 2019

Euston foodbank co-ordinator Deseline Djiayep with Dorothea Hackman, chair of its trustees

THE rising demand for foodbanks are a national disgrace and a sign of the savage ­cruelty that has taken root in this country over the past 10 years.

Often hidden from the public eye, the figures show how the resource has become the norm for many hundreds of adults and – scandalously – children of Camden.

Almost a thousand parcels of free food were handed out to hungry young people, with their parents unable to make ends meet.

The brutal inhumanity of foodbanks has, to some extent, been offset by the kindness of volunteers who give up their time each week to help provide for their ­struggling neighbours.

Those volunteers warned that the introduction of ­Universal Credit would send demand for foodbanks through the roof. The new benefit system has pushed many of the desperate and needy towards the cliff edge.

Despite the work of ­Camden outreach projects and organisations such as Streets Kitchen, homeless people continue to bed down in ­doorways and stairwells this Christmas. And disabled ­people have suffered nothing short of human rights abuses through merciless welfare reforms from the Department for Work and Pensions.

The work capability assessments, undertaken by companies such as Atos and Maximus over the past decade, have been a vile product of economic austerity policy.

It is an under-reported fact that the UN special rapporteur for poverty last year criticised the government for “ideological” cuts to public services.

The UK social security net was “deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos”, its report said. The deaths of the ­vulnerable and disabled have, tragically, been told in St ­Pancras Coroner’s Court in years gone by.

Councils’ budgets have been decimated – reduced by more than half over 10 years – as have schools’ budgets.

Police numbers have fallen.

The NHS, despite what is said by leading Conservatives, has been forced to outsource and find new methods of income, often hastily rushing into misguided land deals with developers.

The housing crisis has ­continued unabated. Legal aid has been decimated, and there is a two-tier system emerging in the courts. The Home Office’s “hostile environment” should not be forgotten when voters go to the polls today.

Each week, we have ­reported on the impact of ­government policies on ­Camden residents’ lives.

Without a significant new outlook, the misery will continue. It will worsen and become more entrenched.

And there is no suggestion that the Conservatives, if re-elected with a majority government, are going to do anything about it.

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