It is extremely sad to see so many people, particularly young people, sleeping and begging on the streets of our towns and cities. For too long now we have all – politicians, society and families – looked to salve our consciences through food banks and charity-run hostels, ignoring the urgent need to prevent people from getting into such dire circumstances in the first place.
We need to start with our education system.
As well as the basic requirements of good GCSEs in Maths and English, we need to ensure that every child, male or female, is able to prepare and cook for themselves a variety of nourishing, reasonably priced meals and be able to draw up, understand and implement a basic household budget to equip them with entry eventually into the real world. Other subjects can be built onto this vital base to channel the individual towards an appropriate career.
The scrapping of the requirement to provide a suitable deposit on any hire purchase arrangement, and the multitude of offers of ‘interest free’ ‘nothing to pay for up to four years’ with the accompanying pressure sale advertising, makes it almost impossible for consumers to resist temptation.
Indeed, whilst it is almost impossible to get credit if you have no debts, it is all too easy to add to your debts if you are already over-committed.
It must be particularly difficult for parents with restricted income, with children at school faced with the added outlay on school trips, birthday expeditions, outfits and transport for end of year Proms, Halloween and Christmas expenditure to say ‘no’, knowing that their children will be pressurised by their classmates and knowing that loans and credit / store cards are readily available to sort the problem temporarily.
We all have a duty to ensure our children are made fully aware of the dangers they face as adults unless they learn to budget, and more especially to say ‘no’ to the many seemingly ‘too good to miss opportunities’ put before them.
In the meantime, we need to provide visitors to food banks with practical help and advice on coping with their debts and weaning them off expensive, less nutritious fast food in favour of simple, less expensive but more nutritious meals.
Apart from the savings, such changes should restore some pride and satisfaction in their lives.
Similarly with the homeless, all must have some family somewhere to whom they could be reconciled or who could be persuaded to help alleviate their plight.
Politicians nationally and locally should be able to lead on this increasing problem.
Following the recent furore caused by a certain MP in relation to the Prime Minister’s trousers, the BBC reports that a pair of bloomers worn by Queen Victoria are confidently expected to sell for in excess of £6,000 in an upcoming auction. It appears that Theresa May picked up a real bargain at a mere £1,000 for her leather elegance. It is so reassuring to know Nicky Morgan, the former Education Secretary, has the vital interests of the governance of the UK top of her agenda.
Time will tell
Personally, while I usually vote Conservative, I would like to see an Opposition led by the likes of Chuka Umunna or a young Stephen Kinnock. Time will tell.
John Redfearn via email