Who are the poor?

Interesting article on attitudes to poverty and benefits. The identity of the author may surprise you. Who is likely to write something like this?

My two grandfathers were working class. They both lived in rented accommodation, and earned their living from a skilled trade. They both spent teenage years in the trenches in France fighting for their country. One, a farrier, had to become a labourer for the electricity company when horse shoeing went out of fashion. The other did move in later life from carpentry and shop fitting to a clerical job in an office.

In the 50s and 60s when I was a child working class attitudes were straightforward. The families did not want to accept charity. It was the father’s task to find and keep a job to pay the rent and the food bills. There was a pride in self help, and in the dignity of labour. A man defined himself by what he did, by his position in life. As the welfare state developed, people were happy to take universal benefits like free health care and the old age pension. They saw these as entitlements, paid for by their National Insurance stamp. They saw means tested benefits as a kind of state charity they would rather avoid. One grandfather supported the Unions and Labour, the other I think voted Liberal. Neither wanted to talk religion or politics. Both were Church of England, and had imbibed a moral sense from the Christian message. Both liked the NHS, protecting them from the unaffordable doctor’s bills.

Whole article here.


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