Coventry kids going hungry over summer holidays

Coventry kids going hungry over summer holidays

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The following article was sent to us by Nicky Downes, a local teacher and equalities secretary for Coventry NUT.

There will be many children in Coventry counting down the days until they return to school in September. We all assume that children love the freedom of the holidays but if you’re hungry then there is little pleasure in each day.

Teachers in Coventry often have a packet of biscuits in their cupboard and many will have provided a bowl of cereal for a child that has gone without breakfast. At least for all children in Key Stage 1 there is a free hot meal to look forward to at lunchtime during the term. In fact as reported by the Cov Telegraph this week 8368 students in the city are entitled to free school meals. That’s one in every ten children.

Come the holidays free school meals are not available. For some families finding the cost of providing meals for their children for the six week holiday can be a struggle. The Tressell Trust which runs many of Coventry’s foodbanks reported a 17% rise in use over last year’s summer holidays. It is likely to be as high or if not higher this year.

We live in the sixth richest country and still some of our city’s children go hungry over the summer. Despite knowing that for many a free meal in the middle of the day is essential, the Tory government wanted to end free school meals for Key Stage 1 and were quite rightly forced to backtrack. No families should be reliant on foodbanks to fill the gap. It’s a national disgrace.

Time to wage war on the system that brings us foodbanks

Time to wage war on the system that brings us foodbanks

News has emerged that the use of foodbanks in the United Kingdom has continued to rise. The Trussell Trust has reported that in “between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2017 (they) provided 1,182,954 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis compared to 1,109,309 in 2015-16. Of this number, 436,938 went to children.”

This has been blamed on a number of factors, not least the introduction of Universal Credit as well as the continued use of Benefit sanctions as a way of punishing those most in need. It is also true that due to poverty wages and zero hour contracts, that people who are in work can also be forced to foodbanks in order to survive.

How can this be right in the 6th richest country in the world? A country where there is no shortage of money and wealth. Why is it that working class families have to suffer the sheer indignity of going to foodbanks, whilst the rich corporations manage to avoid paying their taxes?

The answer is simple – it is the capitalist system to blame. A system that sees the majority of the world’s population suffer, even in supposedly advanced countries like the UK.

We need to be able to control the vast wealth and resources that exist on our planet, so we can plan the economy in the interests of ordinary people. That means getting rid of capitalism, fighting for public ownership and workers control of the key sectors of the economy, so we can truly put people before profit. In short, we need to fight for socialism. Join us!

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Coventry Tory councillor attacks benefit claimants

Coventry Tory councillor attacks benefit claimants

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Cllr Julia Lepoidevin (Woodlands)

A Tory councillor in Coventry has attacked benefit claimants during a full council meeting – after previously calling food bank users “selfish”.

Cllr Julia Lepoidevin, who represents Woodlands ward and is shadow cabinet member for children’s services, claimed that “What drives families into poverty is more than just income measures. It is addiction, family breakdown, domestic abuse, debt, leaving school with no qualifications. Give an addict an increase in benefit and it will be spent on the addiction, create further debt, cause mental health issues and break up families.”

While no-one would deny that the causes of poverty can be complex, Cllr Lepoidevin deliberately chose to attack a tiny minority of vulnerable people rather than accepting that many ordinary people will be forced into poverty by her party’s benefit cuts. Labour councillors rightly attacked her for these disgraceful comments – unfortunately, they are passing on these cuts at a local level and they are hurting Coventry people with council tax rises.

This is not Cllr Lepoidevin’s first attack on working class people – in 2014, she called food bank users “selfish” and claimed they spend money on drugs and alcohol rather than food and rent.

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Sarah Smith (left) protesting against the eviction of a bedroom tax victim

Sarah Smith, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate in Woodlands ward, said the comments were “appalling”. “Not content with just making these cuts, Cllr Lepoidevin wants to rub salt in the wound. I will continue to campaign against her and any other councillors who want to attack ordinary people.”

Shocking figures expose poverty pay in Coventry

Shocking figures expose poverty pay in Coventry

Low pay in Coventry

Low pay in Coventry

Figures reported by the Coventry Telegraph today have exposed the extent of low pay in our city.

The report showed that according to government figures around 26,000 people, or nearly 1 in 5 of those in work in 2014, were earning less than the living wage of £7.65 per hour.

Low pay, linked to the proliferation of zero hour contracts and casualised work combined with the recent and future job losses will further exacerbate growing inequality in the city. Tory cuts to tax credits will drag ever more people in to the race to the bottom.

It also exposes the claim from the leadership of Coventry City Council including Labour councillors who boast regularly that Coventry is going to be a ‘top ten city’. A ‘top ten city’, but for whom? Is it a ‘top ten city’ for those 18,000 people who rely on foodbanks or for those trying to survive on less than the living wage (though we would also ask who could actually live on the 2015 living wage rate of £7.85 per hour?) Is it a ‘top ten city’ for those who can’t get decent housing and are driven in to the hands of landlords charging exorbitant rent?

Or is it a top ten city for businesses wanting to make more profit on the back of a low wage workforce who do not know when they working from one week to the next?

We have outlined previously an alternative for Coventry, and what councillors could be doing to lead a fight back in the city. We would encourage people to look at this by clicking here

The situation is only going to get worse as the Council add to over 1,000 people it has already made redundant in the last 5 years with further massive cuts expected to take place in the near future.

It is a far cry from the not so distant past in Coventry. Coventry had one of the highest wage rates in the country. The need to rebuild trade union organisation across the city is paramount. Companies and organisations can’t be allowed to get away with poverty pay and the use of zero hour contracts.

This isn’t just a Coventry problem. Across the country and indeed the world there is a race to the bottom as companies and governments of the 1 per cent attempt to make ordinary people pay for the capitalist economic crisis. The logic of the system is to drive down wages as well the workplace rights of working class people to make more profit. This needs to be challenged – we need a massive fight for a £10 per hour minimum wage, decent and secure jobs and housing for all. This should be linked to the fight to get rid of this crisis ridden capitalist system. If you agree with us, we encourage you to join us