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We had no money but were never poor
THE campaign to Stamp Out Poverty campain is well-meaning but will come to naught. The gospels tell us that the poor will always be with us. And who are the poor? Everyone in this country is infinitely better off than the slum dwellers of Cairo or Calcutta, and people today are infinitely better off than previous generations.
I was born in 1951 in a terraced hovel. No bathroom. No heating. No hot water. No television. No car.
There were two bedrooms for seven people. My clothes were handed down from three older brothers. I did not consider myself poor. My parents had an even tougher childhood before the war. They did not consider themselves poor. Working class and keen to work to improve themselves, yes. But poor? Certainly not.
Matthew Laverack, Lord Mayor's Walk, York.
• I WHOLEHEARTEDLY applaud The Press for its Stamp Out Poverty campaign, and Janet Kitchen-Cooper (Letters, November 24) is correct to say that many households in York are having a struggle to make ends meet.
Describing international aid as a handout, however, is incorrect, and insulting to the recipient organisations. UK aid is now targeted where it is most needed and most effectively deployed.
The subject of the keynote address at a conference to be held in London on December 11 will be Transforming Britain's Approach to International Development: Delivering Results, Transparency and Value For Money. Delegates will have the chance to explore the Government's reforms to UK aid delivery. More of the money is to be given to organisations deemed to perform well. Further details can be found by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The most badly-off family in York is rich compared with millions in countries that are part of our increasingly interdependent world. The worst-housed person in York has access to clean water. A homeless person who collapses in a York street is only a passer-by's phone call away from an ambulance.
Poverty at home should be acknowledged and addressed, but common decency requires that a share of our national resources is used to give communities in developing countries a realistic chance to improve their lives and those of their children.
Mary Machen, Neville Street, York.
• NEW council tax benefit regulations put many councils into an invidious position where government funding has been reduced by more than 20 per cent for working-age claimants. On top of that, the bedroom tax will hit more than 25,000 under-occupying tenants in Yorkshire and Humber.
Since 2010, City of York Council has commendably reduced hardcore council tax arrears by ten per cent. However, it seems inevitable council tax and rent arrears will rise exponentially if the poorest are expected to find up to another £20 a week to cover these cuts. Or perhaps they will resort to payday lenders. Or be faced with the stress of bailiffs knocking on their door.
Despite raising an additional council tax liability of £0.7m from second homes, empty homes and voids, the council has not set this off against the proposed scheme. It will proceed with a full 30 per cent cut to council tax benefit. It further missed the opportunity of raising up to a further £530,000 from landlords by entirely abolishing the void exemption. Regrettably, I suspect the council's decision will be seen in time to be counter-productive in economic – collection rates will plummet, similar to a poll tax mark II – and social terms. All of that said, we should remember the overall responsibility for such brutal cuts levied against the poor lies with this coalition. Our council will partly mitigate it through implementation of a living wage as well as topping up its own localised social fund.
RKM Bridge, Holgate Road, York.
• CONGRATULATIONS to The Press on its latest worthy campaign, this time to oppose poverty.
I hope the people of York will combine to relieve the poverty and homelessness of the most vulnerable areas of society, who in the next 12 months will pay the biggest price for the recession.
With the benefit cuts becoming a reality in April, so too will the price of political policy.
For those among us agreeing with the Government line that “no one should be better off out of work than in employment”, can I point out the fact that the millions paid out in the much-quoted housing benefit only benefits the largely wealthy landlords who are making a lucrative living in the ever-growing market of private rentals. Statistics indicate that York private rental charges are second only to London.
I realise lack of investment in the building industry has led to the current situation, but does there always have to be individuals who are ready to capitalise on the misery of others?
We need to bring down private rental charges to an affordable level.
Liz Edge, Parkside Close, York.