YP Letters: Food banks and poverty's definition

What does the emergence of food banks say about contemporary society?What does the emergence of food banks say about contemporary society?
What does the emergence of food banks say about contemporary society?
From: John Watson, Main Street, Kirk Deighton, Wetherby.

Before Christmas, there was much news about “food banks” and about the rising number of people “living in poverty”.

Fair enough, but we must also consider what “poverty” actually is. The generally accepted definition is that a household is living in poverty if its total income is below 60 per cent of the “national median household income”.

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In 2016 there were 13.5 million such households in the UK. That was 21 per cent of the total, a figure “barely changed since 2002/3” according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

What has changed since 2002/3, however, is household income itself. It has risen by 11 per cent. It has also doubled since 1977 – even after making allowance for inflation. So those in poverty may still be poor in relative terms but their standard of living has been rising as fast as everyone else’s.

If all that is true (and it’s based on figures from the Office for National Statistics), then the real question is not why are there so many food banks in 2016 but why there were so few in 1977?

Tribute to an MP’s courage

From: Mrs E Bell, Stanningley, Pudsey.

I WOULD like to thank you very much for your strong defence of former MP Ann Cryer in your recent reports about child grooming in Bradford.

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My last employment some 30 years ago was as a health visitor in Bradford. I and all my colleagues were well aware of the abuse of vulnerable children by a cohort of Muslim men and of the way that Mrs Cryer’s brave efforts to put a stop to this were ignored by police and social services.

Give dam hero a gong

From: Terry Palmer, South Lea Avenue, Hoyland, Barnsley.

HERE we go again with ‘gongs’ being handed out ‘willy nilly’ (Tom Richmond, The Yorkshire Post, January 7). Knighthoods and Dameships handed to millionaires who have earned vast riches mainly for themselves by doing something they enjoy and happened to be good at. Yet the last British Dambuster was snubbed in the New Year Honours but many of ‘Posh Dave’ Cameron’s cronies were rewarded.

George “Johnny” Johnson, 94, was a bomb aimer on Operation Chastise, Guy Gibson’s famous mission to destroy the Ruhr dams, using Barnes Wallace’s innovative “bouncing bomb”.

Friends had launched a campaign to reward him for his bravery and charity work over the decades with a knighthood. Of course he was ignored while Tory donors who have ploughed millions into the Tory party ‘coffers’ were given accolades. Disgusting. Scandalous.

Tough choices on career

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From: Coun Tim Mickleburgh (Lab), Boulevard Avenue, Grimsby.

OF course men and women should get the same pay for doing the same job is a no brainer. Anything else is sex discrimination. But to complain that they pay gap widens in “their 30s when they start having children” (The Yorkshire Post, January 4) is equally obvious.

They have to take time out from the workplace to give birth, often choosing to stay at home to look after them. So naturally those who have remained at work during this period will have moved ahead in the wage stakes.

I’m afraid life is about making tough decisions, which is what some feminists don’t seem to grasp. To have a career break, and then go back to full-time employment as if they had not had this gap would be unfair to those women who have deliberately put their career first, even at the cost of not having a family.

Library sale no surprise

From: Martin Vaughan, Stannington Road, Sheffield.

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THE recent announcement that Sheffield Council plans to sell off its beautiful Central Library should come as no surprise to library users and staff.

We have had to put up with years of staff cuts, cuts to opening hours and the heartbreaking loss of our trusted librarians at Stannnington Library and 15 others and now run by valued volunteers.

The council cannot, and will not, give proper consideration to renovating our existing Central Library as people would like. They probably have another PFI deal in the works for the new library which will saddle us in debit for years to come. Shame on Sheffield Council.

How to cut poll fraud

From: D Webb, Rothwell.

REGARDING Tom Richmond’s column (The Yorkshire Post, December 31), I agree that our voting system is somewhat porous regarding fraud. At the moment you can turn up at a polling station and vote without any ID.

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When filling in the electoral registration form, to be put on the electoral register, everyone should provide their National Insurance number. This could then be cross checked with the tax office, benefits office, works and pensions etc. Everyone has some form of income. Attack this problem at the beginning rather than the end of the journey.

The flaw in travel plan

From: David Walls, Croft Rise, Menston.

WHILST MP Caroline Flint’s loyalty to her local airport is understandable (The Yorkshire Post, January 3), her planned trip from King’s Cross to Paris via train to Doncaster Sheffield Airport and onward flight to Paris is flawed.

A short walk from King’s Cross is St Pancras, the Eurostar terminal.

I’d be in the centre of Paris before she got to Doncaster.