Category: Poverty

Covid Watch: Shropshire businesses step in after our county’s MPs shamefully vote against proving free school meals in holidays

Earlier this week, all five Shropshire MPs voted against giving children from poorer families school meals during school holidays. The MPs, who seem not to know what it is like to be on the poverty line, think families can thrive on Universal Credit. It was their “let them eat cake moment”. The MPs include Philip Dunne who has recently taken on a part-time job alongside his supposedly fulltime job as Ludlow’s MP. Fortunately, cafes, restaurants and businesses around the county have stepped in and are offering food to families with children who qualify for free school meals. Our communities are stepping up just as our MPs step down from their responsibilities.

Shropshire Council is planning to raid the tills of Ludlow charities with business rate hikes – it’s an immoral tax on volunteers

We have more from the Directorate of Very Bad News at Shropshire Council. The council is planning to cancel all discretionary business rate relief for charities, sports clubs, youth clubs and a lot of other social enterprises across the county. In Ludlow, and voluntary and social enterprises could face an annual bill of more than £20,000 from next April. This is nothing other than a tax on our volunteer community. It is a disgusting raid on the funding of good causes.

Yesterday, Shropshire Council agreed in private session to buy the Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside shopping centres. BBC Radio Shropshire is suggesting that the purchase price is £60 million. The day before, the cabinet agreed to spend £300,000 on consultancy fees to examine refurbishing Shirehall at the cost of more than £18 million. If the government approves the North West Relief Road around Shrewsbury, the council will chip in £21 million and pay for any overspend. In the same breath, it is aiming to raise £1.2 million a year by imposing contributions to council tax on some of the poorest in our county. This cruel imbalance in spending and taxation partly arises from political ambitions and dogma. It also arises from spending cuts and the obscurity of local government accounting rules that prevent us spending capital receipts on services.

That’s what Shropshire Council is planning to do. Unable to balance its budget, and that is the fault of the government as well as this Conservative led council, it plans to tax some of the poorest people in our county. Yesterday, 14 December, the council voted in favour of making some of the poorest and most vulnerable in Shropshire pay 20% of their council tax bill. One member argued: “It is only fair that everyone shares the burden.” I disagreed saying: “It is not fair that the poor share the burden.” Surely our job as a council is to protect vulnerable people, not tax them?

It’s shocking and wrong that so many people rely on food banks – but you can help

It’s an ugly truth of our sometimes ugly age. Acccording to the Trussell Trust, the number of people making use of its 400 food banks has topped one million (but see this cricisim of the 1 million figure, its perhaps only half a million people a year). I can’t find any data on the total number of food banks in the UK. A lot are run by voluntary organisations, including here in Ludlow. So the number of people in desperate need of food is well over half a million. And yet, the IMF says we are the fifth largest economy in the world. Five years ago, none of us would have expected the need for food banks to have grown so quickly.

Back to top