When I was a small boy, I saw the end of the Second World War. Obviously, because I was only five years of age, that momentous happening passed me by. But we saw my father return from the Army, and suddenly we were a family once more. We weren’t rich, we saw tight times, but we had a regular wage coming through the door, and we never lacked for the basics.
True, I inherited my brother’s shirts as he grew out of them, but we always made do, and we always got by. As we grew up, we were able to wear our school blazers and uniforms, we had whatever was required. In other words, our parents saw that we grew up in a British tradition, of knowing that whatever we had came from hard work, and nothing came from nothing.
Many of our schoolfriends were not so lucky in their lives. I remember one day two of the boys in my class were absent; and two days later they returned. The explanation was simple, they had no shoes, so they had to wait until their parents could afford new shoes. Others were late to school, because they had to walk, not having the pennies for the bus fare.
Some of my schoolmates ate all their school dinners, every day. When I tell you that the food served up at school lunchtimes was possibly the most tasteless concotion known to man, that gives you some idea of the reality of the previous sentence. That school dinner was probably the only solid nutritional meal that they would see all day.
The truth was simple, that there wasn’t the money in those households to stretch to extra shoes, or bus-fares; or extra food on the table. That, my friends, is to be poor! That is a definition of poverty! Not to be able to heat your home, or properly clothe or feed your children!
The Child Poverty Act 2010 is neither definition, reality or fact. There are no poor people in Britain, not with the huge back-up of Social Security benefits available at the stroke of a pen or the ‘click’ of a mouse. There are feckless people aplenty, there are those who don’t use their benefits wisely; and there are those who do not deserve the very title of parent, but all of those people do not live and never have have lived, for a very long time, in any sort of poverty; except the poverty of the mind!