Readers' letters: Poverty levels are growing worse

In 2019 UN Poverty Rapporteur Philip Alston issued a damning UK report. Then, a fifth of the population lived in poverty and 1.5 million were unable to afford basic essentials.
UN Poverty Rapporteur Philip AlstonUN Poverty Rapporteur Philip Alston
UN Poverty Rapporteur Philip Alston

Since then, the combined effects of Brexit and Covid have significantly worsened the picture. Rocketing energy bills, regressive tax increases and inflation have forced millions more into abject poverty.

Alston identified the UK government’s deliberate shift in underlying values shaping government policy since 2010 as the cause of the misery. Compassion for suffering, he said, has been replaced by punishment of those least capable of coping with today’s world.

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A prime example is provided by food writer and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe. She demolished the government’s claim of a five per cent cost of living increase

For those who have long relied on the cheapest supermarket staples to survive such as pasta, rice, baked beans, canned spaghetti and bread, prices have risen by 141 per cent, 344 per cent, 45 per cent, 169 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.

Furthermore, many products are smaller but priced the same, a practice known as ‘shrinkflation.’

Alston acknowledged Scotland’s frantic efforts to mitigate the worst aspects of UK austerity policy. The Scottish Child Payment, free school meals and Best Start Foods cards can only scratch the surface until we reclaim our independence.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.

Nuclear reactors

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Rolls-Royce have been making safe nuclear reactors for submarines for over 50 years. Now they are upscaling that technology to produce factory-built, small modular reactors generating 470MW each of zero carbon electricity for at least 60 years.

Each of these reactors will produce enough electricity to power 1 million homes 365 days a year regardless of weather conditions. Each will require only a small site and the reactor is small enough to be transported by lorry.

Their supply chain is British, their export potential is huge. and their production will stimulate a renaissance in UK research and high-end technology.

If we compare SMRs with wind farms the benefits are obvious. Wind energy is intermittent. The more wind farms there are the harder it becomes for National Grid's control room at Warwick to balance the Grid as it must do at 50Hz.

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While windfarms need millions of tons of concrete poured onto the countryside and hundreds of miles of access roads, SMR's do not scar the countryside; they have a footprint smaller than a large Tesco.

However, thanks to the SNP, Scotland will not benefit from this modern technology as it turns its back on sinews of industry in its new Green guise.

William Loneskie, Lauder.

Disestablish C of E

The Church of England is currently consulting on plans to allow Anglicans from other countries to have a much greater say in the appointment of their leader, The Archbishop of Canterbury. This outside influence would likely set back even small liberal advances made by the C of E regarding women bishops and same sex marriage.

Given that fewer than one per cent attend church, this is hardly a problem for the rest of us, until we remember that the established C of E runs around a quarter of English schools and enjoys unelected access to government and 26 seats in the House of Lords.

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Fortunately the obvious solution is at hand: let’s disestablish the Church of England so they are free to do whatever they want.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society.

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