Astonished! Alarmed! Appalled! These were my reactions to reading in the North Norfolk News, figures released by End Child Poverty which showed that 27.4% of young people in North Norfolk live in child poverty, above the nation’s average of 26.9%.
Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, was quoted as rightly saying: “These figures are seriously concerning. Something is really wrong with the way our country is run if the UK, one of the wealthiest in the world, can’t ensure the well-being of a quarter of its children.”
So, how am I feeling less than a week later, about this appalling indictment of society’s failure to care for so many of our young? Astonished, alarmed and appalled, but do I feel angry enough about it? If a quarter of our young were being systematically, physically and emotionally abused, would I so readily tolerate it?
Why then am I not angry enough? Is it because as one of the fifth in our community who are retired, and who is relatively comfortably well off (though I haven’t been able to afford to go on a cruise this year!), that it doesn’t really concern me. After all, I’ve never been one of those so called ‘skivers’, who if certain sections of the media are to be believed, are probably the parents of these children.
No, I am a ‘striver’, one of those who the government champions, because I’ve always been willing to work. I’ve paid my National Insurance dues all my life, surely I’m entitled to metaphorically put my feet up? In any case, what can I do, apart from making a nuisance of myself, by making a fuss about it? Then, what would other people think of me?
Wasn’t I brought up to do as I was told, and only speak when I was spoken to? Certainly, I was taught to not question my elders and betters, those who knew best, those in authority! After all, they were democratically elected to govern our country, justly and fairly!
I only have to look at the Government’s Policy areas online, to know that they believe: ‘All children should grow up in a supportive and stable environment’. That they are ‘supporting people who care about their communities and want to get involved in improving them’; ‘working to make Britain a fair, free and democratic society’; encouraging ‘greater public participation in decision-making’; ‘working to spend public money responsibly and effectively’.
Now I can sit back, content in the knowledge that those in power believe, ‘openness and transparency can save money’, and ‘strengthen people’s trust in government’; that they’re ‘giving local councils more power to decide how to spend public money in their areas so they can meet local people’s needs’, and that the ‘benefit system needs to be reformed to be fair, affordable and able to reduce poverty, worklessness and welfare dependency’. Gosh, that really lets me off the hook!