Last evening I watched two television programmes linked to a not dis-similar theme, namely the implications of the current economic situation in Britain.
The first involved three of our well known cooks spending time with three individuals/families who were clearly feeling the pinch and finding it difficult to put food on the table. All appeared to be trying hard, but not succeeding terribly well. Hopefully all benefited from the advice and support being offered.
It's not everyone who has a natural expertise in shopping, cooking or pre-planning things and these necessary elements came through to a different extent with each of the participants. The second part of the programme involved coverage of an event aimed at raising the plight of the disadvantaged with MP's, retailers and media personalities. The whole programme was factual, sympathetically done and raises the spectre of how many people are out there, struggling, not complaining, but not getting what they deserve from life. Whilst all the kids involved were clearly receiving the necessary level of support, such was not the case with the adults who were clearly making do or doing without. The backlash to all this will surely be a health crisis at some point as one advisor pointed out. The solution? A proper recognition of the problem by the Government and meaningful action thereafter. Arguments about whether relevant Government Ministers have visited food banks or not are irrelevant, a concerted evaluation of the extent of the problem and the requirements needed to rectify it in the short term are what's need. The various charities involved could soon put the Government in the picture but one is led to suspect that realism, as seen through a set of Tory eyes, can be different to the actual reality of the situation.
The second programme dealt with our attitudes towards benefit claimants and their circumstances. I have no hesitation in saying that people who are disadvantaged and need support should receive it. However, it is not for them to determine that this is a lifestyle they can elect to embrace. Sometimes we all have to accept second best and set aspirations aside. Sadly the old values of self respect seem to have been conveniently set aside by some who, if they can't gain what they want, feel the world should support them. A lot of the current circumstances appear to emanate from attitude problems and a willingness to conveniently ignore that , somewhere along the line, someone has to pick up the tab. The old adage that "the world owes no one a living" applies!! Whilst I can understand the circumstances the participants felt had contributed to their situation, I felt little sympathy with the plight of most of them given the inadequate effort they were making towards altering things. The Government can't be blamed for everything and, therefore, a bit of self determination and effort wouldn't go amiss. Such appeared to be both lacking in presence and intention by most, aspects that infuriate a lot of people and lead to stereotypic conclusions that sadly end up including genuine cases who do need support.
I was left feeling that some action to wheedle out the idle and scam merchants of this world is still needed and justified but, at the end of the day, getting the economy on its feet is the paramount "driver" that will provide the necessary circumstances for improvement. I'm afraid, after then, feeble excuses and an opting out of the system should largely fall on deaf ears, unless proof could be offered that the individual was really trying hard to improve their circumstances. Calculations suggesting that unemployment benefits amount only to 10% of the overall budget don't impress me. If such are being drawn without real justification then the circumstances are WRONG and the monetary benefits should be denied and redirected to more meaningful requirements linked to training or education.