Nowhere People

With inequality yawning wider by the hour in the UK, and being given yet another step up in Parliament with attacks on benefits today, it’s salutary to look at the fine set of images by David Hoffman, Nowhere People.

He comments under the pictures:

Homeless people in London. Young and old alike forced from the margin of survival out into the streets by the inequality of our financial system. Shot over more than 30 years it’s depressing to see how similar the most recent ones are to the oldest. Yet in that same time the income of those at the top has increased tenfold.”

But although the circumstances are depressing, these are pictures that are full of humanity and which show an understanding and respect for the people in them, a dignity we all deserve, whatever our circumstances.

If anything I think David’s comment is too optimistic; there has been the occasional improvement but things really – particularly in recent years – have got worse. The Labour government at least tried, but generally were incompetent and failed to address the issues, while the coalition just fails to understand the problems faced by the poor and out of work. When you are earning thousands a week it’s hard to understand what life is like on £71 (£56.25 if you are under 25.)

If we really were “all in this together” the present Government would be pressing for a more equal income distribution, perhaps by making a limited ratio of salaries of those working for an organisation a condition of tendering for all government contracts – and by getting rid of outsourcing as a way to pay poverty wages and impose primitive employment conditions. They’d also be clamping down on the tax avoiders and bankers, working for fixed actual wage increases rather than percentages, and raising the minimum wage to a living wage. And supporting a real ‘big society’ that helps provide support and services for others rather than one that makes huge profits for a few often corrupt companies while putting many charities out of business.

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