Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Pauperland and the Inquiry into Hunger in Britain.

with 33 comments

On the eve of the release of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in Britain this should be essential reading:


Pauperland. Poverty and the Poor in Britain. Jeremy Seabrook. Hurst & Company.

Pauperland is the story of how “the laws of commerce” became the “laws of God” and of those who have suffered along the way.

Th book is a history of attitudes towards the poor, both employed and unemployed. Seabrook tells us those in authority who consider that poverty is caused by the “wilful perversity of poor”. Making them bear responsibility for their misbehaviour, and reforming them, from the Workhouse to Mandatory Work Activity and the Community Action Programme is a long and harrowing tale. One thread runs through it: the ‘idle’ need to be reformed for their own good – by force, hunger, or, more recently by ‘sanctions’.

Perhaps the best way to discuss this fine book is to give a few extracts from its history of how poverty and unemployment have been treated.

1547, the Regency Council, “In the light of complaints against idleness and vagabonderie it is therefore enacted that if any man or woman able to work should refuse to labour and live idly for three days, that he, or she, should be branded with a red-hot iron on the breast with the letter V, and should be adjudged the slaves for three years of any person who should inform of the said idler.” (Page 45) The law was repealed three years later.

The original Workhouses, 18th century, “In the eighteenth century, the poor were to be managed by the contractor at so much per head, or maintained for a lump sum agreed at the outset.” “Everything that could be was contracted out, – physicians for medical services, carpenters for making coffins; the conveyance of vagrants to their place of settlement, pauper shifts and shrouds, shoes and stockings” “Conditions in the workhouse presented ‘scenes of filthiness of and confusion;’. They were ‘receptacles of misery, ‘mansions of putridity’. Men and woman, young and old, sick and healthy shared a miserable existence, some sleeping on straw on brick floors, others three or four in a bed” (Page 67)

After the Poor Law Amendment Act, 1834. “The Andover workhouse scandal occurred in 1847, when the inmates were discovered to have been eating rotten meat from the bones they were supposed to be rendering for glue.” (Page 102)

Public Assistance in the 1930s – Unemployment Benefit (created after the 1st World War, now had to deal with those out of work because of the slump). Apart from the ‘Means test’ that gave payment only to those who could prove their destitution penny by penny and make them sell anything judged unnecessary, there was this,

“An employee of the Public Assistance Committee would take up position in the balcony of cinemas in Bolton or South Shields, to observe who was idling money and time away, watching The Garden of Allah or Poor Little Rich Girl when they ought to have been pounding the streets in search of an outlet for their unwanted labour, informants were reputed to stand all night outside certain houses to make sure no undeclared lodger or relative was sleeping there. People picking coal fallen from railway wagons were charged with theft, and even those gathering fuel in the woods were considered to be conducting a profitable business.” (Page 134)

National Assistance Act of 1948. This began with the sentence, “The poor law shall cease to exist” a promise of deliverance to millions who had lived in the shadow of workhouse, means test, pawn shop and private moneylenders.” (Page 35)

“A national health service, secure income for the elderly, support to the sick and employed, represented a security unheard of in the history of industrial capitalism. And for a people liberated from ancient scourges of want and hunger, Britain was ready for a prosperity that promised – and indeed, has delivered (in more ways than one) – the earth.” (Page 149)


“With the rehabilitation of the free market in the early 1980s, complaints of red tape, government interference, high taxes, the stifling of enterprise and the crushing of initiative, the time was ripe for an assault on the welfare state, as invented by do-gooders to make people supine and demanding. And the principal object of wrath was, once more, the poor; not the impotent poor (although even these are now considered nay government proper targets for surgical strikes on welfare. The able-bodied poor, the army of shirkers and losers who take the piss and have a laugh at the taxpayer’s expense.”(Page 150)

“So the hunt is on for the cheat and the thief, the raider of public bounty, and the vigilant are invited to call a confidential helpline. Resentment and hatred are staples of the rhetoric; the world if full not of family, friends and neighbours, but of junkies and alkies, peds and pervs, beasts and monsters, loonies and weirdos, con-artists and crooks, rapists and muggers, a rapacious humanity out to take advantage of the thin charity and grudging compassion of our miserly wealth.” (Page 150)

The attack on the poor – in the form of welfare – has reached a paroxysm. Politicians, journalists, ideologues, polemicists, some members of the clergy, taxpayers’ organisations, commerce and business unite in condemnation of those who drain the public purse to no positive effect; a project made easier by mobilising majorities against those who have nothing.(Page 151)

My father came from the slums of Glasgow. His early years (one of a large family) were spent in great poverty. That is, his dad, returning from fighting the Great War, was unemployed for a very long time before finally getting work in the Post Office (his saviour). My mum was born in the East End in a ‘labour aristocracy’ family of printers – not at all poor but with its evidence straight in front of her.

They were fucking proud of the Welfare State for reasons which Seabrook only too clearly illustrates.

There are countless families like us.

There are millions of people like us.

We have to stand up together to the bullies, the ‘welfare reformers’, the Iain Duncan Smiths, the workfare exploiters, poverty pimps and the rabble of chancers from the ‘welfare to work’ industry.

We need more, much more, than:

  • A new publicly funded body, Feeding Britain, involving eight Cabinet Ministers, to work towards a ‘hunger free Britain’.
  • Bigger food banks, called Food Banks Plus, to distribute more free food and advise people how to claim benefits and make ends meet.
  • A rise in the minimum wage and the provision free school meals during school holidays for children from poor families.
  • New measures to make it harder to strip people of benefits for breaking welfare rules – including soccer style ‘yellow cards’ instead of instant bans.
  • Action to make supermarkets give more food to the poor.

We need a properly funded Welfare state.

We need a decent level benefits as a right not Food Banks.

We should be able to stand with our backs up straight: not bent over asking for Charity or being instructed by our ‘betters’.

There are millions and millions like us.

This is a video that beautifully shows how we should act.


33 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on sdbast.


    December 7, 2014 at 11:30 am

  2. ‘Pay benefits faster’ to reduce hunger, MPs urge


    super ted

    December 8, 2014 at 12:06 am

    • Excellent story you posted yesterday and today super ted. Its news like this that knocks home the truth.


      December 8, 2014 at 9:02 am

      • ebay Slave Auction

        We now have a new expression: Slavery begins at home!


        December 8, 2014 at 9:22 am

    • This is a knobhead. He is a fucking knobhead, the type of guy who looks down on the unemployed when he is employed. He is not looking for a job – any job that he he capable of doing – as the job centre definition goes. He want to get paid for doing something that he ENJOYS i.e. film-making, driving (recently passed test, little or no crucial post-test experience?, looking to put in some mileage without forking out over £6 a gallon plus car costs?), PA-ing. i.e ideally he wants someone to pay him for driving round the country scouting for film locations, taking some snaps for his ‘portfolio’ and making some contacts in the ‘industry. As the owner of a business who proudly uses MWA/CWP I would wager that if I were to offer him a job in order to ‘provide for and his family’ I wouldn’t hear a dickie-bird, and I mean a REAL job, sorting through shitty nappies to pick out pieces of cardboard etc, , not this arty-farty crap. The jobcentre can see right through this type, expects to get paid for doing his fucking hobby. If this dude doesn’t get a real job – ‘any job’ – soon I can see the sanctions looming.

      Vertegen Manager

      December 9, 2014 at 8:56 am


    Surprise, surprise, after your article about “Pauperland”, a report appears today about paupers graves:



    December 8, 2014 at 9:38 am

  4. Tobanem b4 ebay removed his 1st listing he had 65 bids and was at £1200 for 5 days work 8hrs a day.

    id work a week for 500 quid 🙂

    super ted

    December 8, 2014 at 11:11 am

    • Thanks for the update, “superted”!

      Real slave auctions are already taking place in this country, though.

      Although the man in your post managed to get some well paid employment, some other (vulnerable) people trying the same thing on ebay might not be so lucky – there are a lot of wolves and sharks out there! (The Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour)!


      SEX trafficking is the third largest money-making crime in the world behind weapons and drugs trafficking.

      CURRENT rate to buy a trafficked female already in the UK is roughly £2,000 [January 2007].

      MORE people are trafficked globally today than at the height of the Atlantic slave trade.

      TRAFFICKED women forced into prostitution in London have sex with between 20 and 30 men a day.

      MAXIMUM term for trafficking offences under Britain’s Sexual Offences Act is 14 years in jail.


      December 8, 2014 at 11:46 am

  5. On the Report, now out, we will post after the reactions are in.

    But Johnny Void already speaks for a lot of us when he says,

    “It is shameful that so many people are now dependent on foodbanks just to be able to feed their children, but to enshrine this charity within the social security system would be a disaster. What poor people need is more money, not more foodbanks. This is just common sense. But you won’t hear calls for an end to vicious cuts to social security from the clowns behind Welby’s report.

    One of the authors of the report is Frank Field. This vile piece of shit was asked to think the unthinkable on welfare reform back in 1997 before being sacked a year later for talking such incomprehensible drivel that even Tony Blair called his ideas “unfathomable”. Sadly this did not shut him up and he has been whinging from the sidelines ever since.”


    Andrew Coates

    December 8, 2014 at 11:39 am

    • Satan’s ministers can often appear as “angels of light”


      December 8, 2014 at 11:50 am

      • “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”

        Corinthians. 11.14 – 11.15.

        Andrew Coates

        December 8, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      • Andrew

        Very Good – for a secularist like yourself!!!

        The Biblical quote is from “Second” Corinthians, chapter 11, verses 13 to 15, or 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

        I also don’t like the claim of a well known “Saviour” politician, who, after his Easterhouse “Epiphany” in 2002, tearfully vowed to rescue the poor and the sick from being trapped in the benefits system. I wonder what this man would have to say – and he is one of thousands of victims:


        You think that is the nadir of Tory ideology? Now, we are getting depressed people being “helped” back to work by being asked if they have considered committing suicide. It’s being termed “Chequebook Euthanasia”, and its roots were laid down more than a century ago by two “angels of light” called Karl Binding and Erich Hoche; their groundwork work led to Aktion T2:



        December 8, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      • My own view on Charity is not far off Corinthians,

        “4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

        5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

        6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

        7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

        8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

        This is the most beautiful representation of those lines that I know (from the Film bleu).

        “a solo soprano singing Saint Paul’s 1 Corinthians 13 epistole in Greek)”

        But charity as something you have to reply on for everyday need makes people dependant on the good will of the giver of charity,.

        Andrew Coates

        December 8, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      • Interestingly, there are two bills being currently considered by both Westminster and the Scottish Parliament.

        In England, there is the Assisted Dying Bill, and in Scotland there is the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill.

        Bear in mind what I have just said about the Work Capability Assessment, Chequebook Euthanasia, Karl Binding, Erich Hosch, and Aktion T4.


        December 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm

  6. 05/12/2014.

    Iain Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit Set For Even More Delays.

    Iain Duncan Smith’s much-delayed welfare project, Universal Credit, is set to take even longer to roll out across the country, the government’s budget watchdog has concluded.

    In a damning verdict on the welfare secretary’s flagship scheme, the Office for Budget Responsibility judged that current forecasts for the rollout of the new benefit, which aims to combine six benefits or tax credits into one single payment, is too optimistic.

    According to the National Audit Office, Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had pushed back the date by which most claimants would be switched to the new benefit by two years – to the end of 2019.

    However, the OBR said it had compared the government’s latest forecasts alongside “the recent history of optimism bias in universal credit plans and other projects of this sort” and decided there was “considerable uncertainty around the delivery of such a complex and wide-ranging change”, estimating there will be another six months of delay.

    This is not the first time that Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit has faced a setback after George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, as the welfare secretary had tried to sneak out the news last year that he would fail to hit the target for its introduction.

    Meanwhile, charities have accused the chancellor of “torpedoing” Duncan Smith’s flagship welfare scheme by deciding in his Autumn Statement to freeze Universal Credit work allowances – the money people can earn before their benefit starts to be withdrawn – for another year.

    Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Freezing the work allowance for people on Universal Credit will mean many find it harder to make work pay. Ministers must be watchful of the money being spent on this flagship reform, whilst ensuring that there is targeted help for people moved onto Universal Credit.”

    The Institute for Fiscal Studies pointed out on Thursday that Osborne has cut the work allowances three times before the policy has even been introduced.

    Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “By cutting Universal Credit once again, the chancellor is in very real danger of torpedoing Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship policy. Freezing the work allowance will harm work incentives and hit low paid families hard. Two thirds of poor children live in working families; we should be redistributing help towards them, not away from them.”


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    December 8, 2014 at 12:21 pm

  7. Bradford families being pushed “over the abyss” by cruel Government policies, a damning report exploring foodbank explosion concludes.

    HUNGRY Bradford families are being pushed “over the abyss” by cruel Government policies, a damning report by a group of MPs warns today.

    A landmark investigation – backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury – condemns the explosion in food bank use in the city and elsewhere and demands radical change.

    In just six months this year, Bradford Central Foodbank, in Jermyn Street, delivered a staggering 21,996 emergency meals.

    And the number of people receiving a three-day aid package has grown to 2,444 between April and September this year, compared with 748 in the same period in 2012.

    Bradford Metropolitan Foodbank reported a 450 per cent increase in demand between 2011 and 2013. It currently hands out 800 food parcels a month and gave out 1,000 in August.

    Food coordinator Ken Leach said: “The benefits system has changed over recent years, and that has been one of the reasons behind the increase.

    “We’re giving out more than 10,000 parcels a year now, and there is always a need for more donations.”

    Now the cross-party study has called for an end to harsh and incompetent benefits policies, as well as action on “rip-off” utility bills imposed on poorer people.

    Mr Field attacked the department for work and pensions (DWP), saying: “They are unable to deliver benefits quickly and accurately, so they take ten, 11, 12, 13 weeks to process.”

    And he rejected ministerial claims that more people are using food banks simply because they are there, saying: “People are near the abyss, and a small event can push them over the abyss.”


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    December 8, 2014 at 2:19 pm

  8. McVey spouting her venom (live) on BBC Parliament Channel.

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    December 8, 2014 at 3:03 pm

  9. super ted

    December 8, 2014 at 4:25 pm

  10. 9pm ch4 Intimate stories of how people live with the devastating effects of long-term unemployment

    super ted

    December 8, 2014 at 4:29 pm

  11. I hear we poor don’t know how to cook.

    “Tory Peer Says ‘Poor Don’t Know How To Cook’

    Baroness Jenkin apologises for her choice of words and claims she was trying to say that “society has lost its ability to cook”.

    That’s her off the guest list for me Christmas dinner of foie gras, lobster and Château Mouton Rothschild.


    Andrew Coates

    December 8, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    • Typical Christmas Dinner round mine (first course, out of ten):

      Andrew Coates

      December 8, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    • It’s OK, what she meant to say was ‘the poor don’t have a cook’. It obviously came as a surprise to her that people could exist without servants.


      December 8, 2014 at 7:46 pm

      • Are you sure she didnt mean she couldn’t find \ force a poor person to be her MWA cook?


        December 9, 2014 at 10:38 pm

  12. “The attack on the poor – in the form of welfare – has reached a paroxysm. Politicians, journalists, ideologues, polemicists, some members of the clergy, taxpayers’ organisations, commerce and business unite in condemnation of those who drain the public purse to no positive effect; a project made easier by mobilising majorities against those who have nothing.(Page 151)”

    But now, with a most inhuman cruelty, they who have put out the people’s eyes, reproach them of their blindness. – John Milton.


    December 8, 2014 at 7:44 pm

  13. I had a large bowl of porridge this morning… total cost 4 pence… 😀

    Baroness Oatmeal of Porridge and Oatbran

    December 9, 2014 at 9:27 am

  14. Skills shortages holding back the UK’s economic recovery



    Do you realize that in the time the tories have been in government, that they could have trained and qualified all claimants for near every position the sectors say their short in ?

    Instead they removed concessions from courses and thus cutting off access and take up to study in sectors such as construction, engineering, teaching, etc. They then replaced it with the 24 plus advanced ,earners loan meaning claimants needed to take on debt if they wished to pursue a path back into work by qualifying for sectors who are well short of skilled workers.

    (Note:- warehouse, hospitality and retail are not suffering skill shortages so why are we still flogging them to claimants and the youth)?

    To add insult to injury, our government kept installed a clause in unemployment benefit that if you receive an offer of work, you must give up the course even though you’ve acquired a debt in the process. If you refuse to except these terms, your benefit is withdrawn for the duration of the course.

    As you can imagine, the take up bar apprenticeships that in themselves discriminate against those over 24 (employers cant get public funding so ignore this age group) is near rock bottom. The result is that skills gaps have widened enough to cause major concern for business an the economical outlook.

    Worthy of note is that CSCS cards were changed in how people acquire them from the 1st of July this year. To date unless corrected, DWP no longer fund claimants getting them and thus dealing a further blow to the construction industry and thus the building of houses badly needed by the UK public.

    If this government want to invest in the country, then hadn’t they best invest in its people first?


    December 9, 2014 at 9:29 am

  15. Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.


    December 9, 2014 at 11:02 pm

  16. Reblogged this on markcatlin3695's Blog.

    Mark Catlin

    December 9, 2014 at 11:53 pm

  17. Dear Andrew, i noticed you removed my comments about this piece of news in relation to GAIA’s comments which i posted on the 9th December , is it because i was using a different computer ? in which case let me explain ; i only have computer access on public terminals and on a friends laptop at present, or was it due to legal reasons ? Would you please be good enough to ring me on my mobile ; 07949 353631 and i will ring you straight back. Many thanks for your unceasing efforts in bringing these Important matters to the public’s attention. Yours Faithfully David Anthony Penson. Bracknell Berkshire Date: Sun, 7 Dec 2014 10:14:36 +0000 To: david3545@hotmail.co.uk

    David Penson

    December 12, 2014 at 1:48 pm

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