Almost two hundred years after the birth of Charles Dickens and the rich are still trying to blame the poor for their circumstances. Charities like Barnardos and The Children’s Society broadly welcomed David Cameron’s pledge to help 120,000 of Britain’s most “troubled families” over the next three years, but with the proviso that the Government puts its money where its pursed-lipped mouth is.
There is a lot of sense in some of what David Cameron proposes. A lot of families probably aren’t getting enough help simply because too many different uncoordinated professionals are dipping in and out of their lives without getting to the cause of the problem. Equally, it probably isn’t as simple as finding one person to “go through the front door” and ensure that the “building blocks” of normal family life are put into place. Mr Cameron cites getting children to school and ensuring that they are fed as examples of things that need to be tackled. Doh. It’s very easy, and disingenuously distracting, to focus on the most chaotic families by invoking an Enid Blyton style “just pull your socks up and stop being so lazy and feckless” attitude to poverty.
(Does anyone else remember The Put Em Rights where a band of hard-working posh children sorted out a Shameless style family by washing their curtains and bathing the children and putting wholesome food on the table?) And it may well work for those who really aren’t coping with the basics, but it won’t solve problems for the rest of us. Making the most chaotic families employable again won’t find work for the £2.7million who are currently employed, or help the one in three families who will get into debt this Christmas clear their credit cards. I would be far more keen to get behind David Cameron’s plan if his policies hadn’t already wiped out the funding for my local community centre, forced my children’s after school service to double its fees and caused the school nursery to cut its provision in half.
That ‘s the way to create chaotic families so if it carries on he can add mine to his list. I could do with someone to help get me up in the morning, ensure the children are dressed, had breakfast, cleaned their teeth, found their book bags and are ready to leave the house in an orderly crocodile by 8.40am.