So here we go again: another tiresome government catch-phrase to stand alongside ‘hard-working families’. Treeza’s latest slogan is ‘just about managing’ (or JAM), a designation that’s supposed to cover all those people who despite working very hard – often in two or three jobs at once – are deserving of a little Tory help. Get the begging bowls out, folks.
But why are they just managing? Anything to do with a few stories in this week’s news?
- Michelin-starred TV chef Michel Roux Jr has been paying kitchen staff at his Mayfair restaurant less than the so-called living wage while presenting a menu which offers a lobster mousse starter at £62.80.
- A care worker whose typical day is highlighted by the Guardian would have £2 still to play with if she bought that lobster. Leaving home at 6.30 and returning twelve hours later, ‘Jean’ (she daren’t give her real name in case of reprisals) will have made 23 house calls to sick and elderly patients and driven 20 miles between appointments in order to earn £64.80 before tax.
- The Trussell Trust reports that 1,109,309 three-day emergency food supplies were provided by its network of 424 food banks in 2015–2016, 415,866 of them going to children. Not to statistics, although it inevitably reads that way, but to flesh and blood needy human beings. The main drivers in food bank usage, it says, are benefit problems and low income.
- The housing charity Crisis reports an alarming rise in homelessness, with councils spending £3.5 billion over the past few years on temporary accommodation for families who would otherwise be on the street.
Remember these stories when Philip Hammond attempts to bring tears to our eyes with his autumn statement next week. Let’s hope he has some genuine relief to offer, but let’s not overlook what cruelties this government has already inflicted on the poor and the disabled.
And let’s spare a thought, as he almost certainly won’t, for the ‘undeserving’ – those people who aren’t ‘just about managing’ but who aren’t managing at all. Forget the JAM today: their tomorrow under this government is nothing but toast.