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Thursday, August 30, 2007

If You Don't Want To Starve, Learn To Speak English

In something of a bleeding heart article, my impersonator has posted a piece on free school meals and their takeup. Tabulating raw figures from the London Councils website, the fake Luke Akehurst goes on to conclude that levels of poverty in London are unacceptable, despite the fact that elsewhere in the country many people think of London as a wealthy city. "The distribution", he claims, "illustrates some really grossly socially and economically polarised boroughs - Camden, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminister [sic!] all have high numbers of the poorest parents living alongside considerable affluence." He's not wrong there, of course, although he fails to point out how much effort we are applying to ensure that Hackney moves out of its current 'all-over' poverty status and enters this group of polarised Boroughs.

Please sir, can I have some delicious school food?Reading the spoofster, anyone would think that Hackney was still in the same state of overall misery it was in when we in New Labour took over after the period of No Overall Control. OK, according to Government statistics in 2004 Hackney was the most deprived local authority area in England, but these figures reflect the dreadful state of the Borough under the previous regime. During the past few years house prices per square foot have risen at the same rate as those in Chelsea, as the new rich have flooded into the Borough. We certainly won't be the most deprived authority area in England by the next time they publish the official deprivation figures!

Then, claims my cyber-stalker, "there's a disturbing gap between eligibility and take-up - particularly in the poorest boroughs." The London Boroughs with the lowest percentage rate of takeup are Hillingdon (72%), Havering (73%), Lewisham (75%), Camden (77%), Sutton (77%), Redbridge (78%), Richmond upon Thames (78%), Greenwich (79%), Ealing (79%), Barnet (80%) and Bexley (80%). Of these, only Lewisham, Greenwich and Camden can possibly be classified as amongst "the poorest boroughs" and several of the others are amongst the wealthiest boroughs in the capital.

So he was pretty wrong up to this point, but old spoofie came close in a comment on his own blog when he said: "A problem with take-up is that you have to fill in a form to apply and send it in to the council." Bingo! The real clue to this anomaly lies in communications problems. In wealthy Boroughs there is a degree of stigma associated with applying for free school meals and in the poorer Boroughs a general lack of language and communications skills is a key factor.

Dear Ms. Kelly, I fail to understand...So, what's the answer to this? To discover the Government's policy you need look no further than this article in The Telegraph. As former Communities Secretary and Papal Envoy Ruth Kelly stated so eloquently, "translation services have been provided too frequently in the past and could become 'a crutch' which acted as a barrier to integration." What is needed, said Ruth, is a "crackdown on councils... routinely translating documents into foreign languages" in order to ameliorate fears that they discourage immigrants from learning English.

You can't argue with that. We can kill two birds with one stone here. If people want to hide away and not integrate with British society, they won't be able to fill in the forms and their children will go hungry.

That'll soon learn 'em to speak proper English like wot I does!

3 comments:

Martina Gandolfini said...

Perchè non mantenete il vostro naso nei vostri propri affari e da il nostro?

Camden said...

"The distribution", he claims, "illustrates some really grossly socially and economically polarised boroughs - Camden, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminister [sic!] all have high numbers of the poorest parents living alongside considerable affluence." - I could not agree more with this statement!

Luke Akehurst said...

Exactly, Camden. When I worked in the Borough for certain MPs a few years ago, it was mostly in Hampstead. We all tried not to get too close to the poor people. You simply can't trust them to vote Labour.