What We Learned Last Week (25/08 – 31/08)

kamsandhu —  September 1, 2014 — 7 Comments

1) Britain remains ‘deeply elitist’ and portrays a system of social engineering

Extensive new research reveals that Britain remains a ‘deeply elitist’ society with the majority of top level professions and jobs dominated by a small pool of those coming from private education or Oxbridge.

According to the report, conducted by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, Britain’s elite is still “formed on the playing fields of independent schools” and “finished in Oxbridge’s dreaming spires.”

Image: The Telegraph

Image: The Telegraph


“The study reveals that the judiciary is the professional group with the most-advantaged educational background – one in seven judges went to just five independent schools: Eton, Westminster, Radley, Charterhouse and St Paul’s School for boys.

The analysis showed that nearly two-thirds of senior armed-forces officers, over half of permanent secretaries and senior diplomats and a third of MPs went to private schools.

Nationally, around 7 per cent of the UK population is independently educated.

Graduates of Oxford and Cambridge universities were also dominant in top jobs, with three-quarters of senior judges attending one of these two universities, along with the majority of the Cabinet.

“Our examination of who gets the top jobs in Britain today found elitism so stark that it could be called ‘social engineering’,” the report says.

It adds that the “sheer scale of the dominance of certain backgrounds” raises questions about whether getting a top job is about ability or knowing the right people.”


Read more about this story here.

2) Nearly a million working parents skip meals to pay housing costs

A new YouGov poll, carried out on behalf of Shelter, has revealed that more than one in ten families have skipped meals in order to keep up with rent and housing costs.

Government figures say that people spend an average of 28% of their income on housing costs, and this rises to 40% in the private sector.

“Shelter highlights the story of Katherine and her husband who both have full-time jobs but still struggle to pay their mortgage. “My husband and I don’t have breakfast because we can’t afford it, and we miss evening meals two or three times a month to help with the mortgage”, Katherine said.

“She added: “We’ve really had to cut back on the basics, and I even had to send our daughter to school in an old uniform that I knew was too small; it made me feel horrible. We are already at breaking point, so I honestly don’t know what we’d do if our financial situation got worse; it really frightens me.”

36.7% of the 10,000 families surveyed said they had cut back on food bills to keep up with housing costs, while 12.9% said they had delayed buying new shoes for their children.

Food prices have gone up 12% in the last 7 years, whereas wages have risen only 7.6% in that time.

Read more about this story here.

3) Britain’s social housing estates are ‘nothing short of a national embarrassment’

“Politicians from all parties should pledge to turn around the nation’s most deprived social housing estates within the next decade,” reads the new report from Policy Exchange.

Image: capita Software

Image: capita Software

Years of neglect and ignorance for Britain’s council estates, has left many with entrenched and generational problems including: ” lone parents with low educational attainment and poor parenting skills; child neglect and domestic violence; low levels of employment; and the rise of gang warfare and knife crime. It points to the case of the Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham where the terrible living conditions, high unemployment and poor police relations contributed to the 2011 riots.”

The report, ‘The Estate We’re In’, adds that it would be ‘morally inexcusable’ for politicians not to commit to vast improvements to the living standards of those on these neglected estates, and calls for the government to set up an ‘Estates Recovery Board’ and ‘Estates Recovery Team’ to pool funding and find leaders in understanding and tackling the issues that are blighting the most deprived areas.

Read more about this report here.

4) 40% of new council tax levies are unpaid

A new council tax levy put on the poorest households as of last year, has seen 40% non-payment as many struggle to meet the new bill.

The new levy came in as part of benefit cuts in April last year, and an average of £5 a week is owed, but money is so tight in a climate of rising bills and stagnant and insecure pay, that this is not affordable for the worst off.

“The figures, obtained from responses from 140 councils to Freedom of Information requests by the anti-cuts group False Economy, reveal that some of the biggest towns and cities were left chasing millions of pounds from the poor.”

Read more about this story here.

 5) The Joseph Rowntree Foundation releases 33 studies on poverty

As part of their anti-poverty strategy, the JRF have commissioned and released 33 reviews which comment on the effects of different factors and their relation to the increase or decrease of poverty.

The studies have been broken up into five sections which are: The Bigger Picture, Welfare and Work, Money and The Cost of Living, Education, Family and Community and Complex Needs.

You can find the reports here.





7 responses to What We Learned Last Week (25/08 – 31/08)


    Accommodation costs only 28 percent to 40 percent? How about a bed-sit converted to flat by putting a wall down the middle being 100 percent of your income? (London)


      Indeed! I should have stressed these were ‘government figures’ – of course housing prices, particularly in London, have nothing to do with any median of earnings!


        Good point. I remember going ballistic when a BBC news item said smugly that housing costs were at their lowest – now only 20 percent of a persons income. As the minimum wage at that time was about £150 pw (most people are low paid) that would be a rent of £30 pw. When could you rent anything in London for £30? But it’s good propaganda.
        My husband and I were in a bedsit room converted to “flat”. If you accept A room is the smallest space anyone can live in if either myself or husband died, likely as both elderly and he had cancer the unavoidable accommodation costs were one person’s entire income. So we moved up North.


        Awful. Thank you for sharing. Yes, it’s all propaganda – if Boris says ‘affordability’ is 80% of market rent event though market rents are soaring and have nothing to to do with what people are earning then he is able to say more affordable housing is being built when it clearly isn’t!

        I spoke to a housing officer a couple months ago and she helps people who have hit rock bottom as either recovering addicts or those who have been forced out of homes etc. She went with one of her clients to a viewing, and the landlord was charging the top level of rent he could for social housing. It was a single room. She asked where the kitchen was – he pointed to the microwave. She asked where the sink was – he pointed to the sink in the room with a toilet. It’s absolutely shameful.


        Sounds like typical London accommodation. We’ll be living in kennels next. Affordability is a classic piece of Orwell-speak. My advice to anyone living in London is get out. We left in 2011 and I can’t believe how much worse it has got down there in the last few years. Yorkshire, Lancs, the nth East – the people are lovely up here. The countryside is gorgeous and you can still rent a house for £450 pm.


    Also of interest regarding cost of living in London is that the Metropolitan Police get a London allowance of approximately £7k pa. If they need it for the higher rents so does everyone. In addition they get help with commuting costs if they choose to live outside London. Again, so does everybody.

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