Something is wrong when hard work is not enough
It is quite something when hard working families can’t afford to feed themselves.
This is Sheffield in 2020 and we have hundreds of households who do not have enough money to buy the very basics needed to survive.
It is one of the most uncomfortable facts of the modern era that poverty can not easily be put in a pocket that holds the lazy, the unfortunate and those a long way from our own neighbourhoods.
The awful truth is there are many people crippled by it right here in our city and the impact on both adults and children is horrifying. It infiltrates our schools and our homes in a cycle that seems gain more momentum as it spins. It should be a thing of the past but sadly not.
Sheffielders have never shied away from rolling up our sleeves and getting stuck in. If truth be told, many of our industries paid poorly and created places that were incredibly hard or dangerous to work in. We have left elements of that behind but not all of it. The poverty remains.
What are we teaching when youngsters can see their parents doing everything they can and it just isn’t enough?
How do we inspire the younger generation when they can’t see fairness or feel the aspiration that is so needed to help them become successful and create their own positive future?
And, if we don’t do that, what kind of city will we live in in 2040 or 2050?
This is not a debate about benefits, although there is much which has been said and is still to say on that subject. It is about paying decent wages in return for good work.
That is very straightforward and there is absolutely nobody, except perhaps the millionaires who really do not need such enormous profits built on others’ skills, who thinks that is wrong. It is only fair and if bosses aren’t happy to do it themselves then there should be legislation to force them.
Many people in this city donate to foodbanks because they want to help. That shouldn't be necessary and if changes were made in the right places then it wouldn’t be because there is enough.
I know we won’t end poverty overnight but unless we get behind those who want to work and are willing to work then we will end up in a very sorry place. Perhaps, we are already there.