County Councillor Karen Constantine Seeing Red: Time for a General Election

Surely preventing destitution is something we can all get behind?

Am I just a bit of a soppy bleeding heart? There’s something about living in a wealthy country – actually the sixth richest on the planet – but seeing people sleeping in tents and knowing many children are already poor and hungry, but becoming poorer and ever more hungry that leaves me feeling distinctly queasy. Surely preventing destitution is something we can all get behind?

I think many of us are also united across political boundaries by our concern  – and that’s putting it mildly – about what’s unfolding in Palestine. (And those other countries also experiencing war and increasing unrest too.) Of course the actions of Hamas against Israel on October 7th were utterly hideous and amount to war crime. But the on-going retaliation is barbaric and the obscene numbers of children killed is cause for sleepless nights and waking nightmares. It’s not hard to put yourself in their shoes. I do want a ceasefire and will do whatever can I do to call for that. Bombing solves nothing.

Not to mention my discomfort with the recent Conservative government’s u-turn on the UK’s gas and oil and production – which will inevitably lead to more global warning. Closer to home their are the plans for further destruction of important wildlife habitat only a few miles away at Minster Marshes and, of course the on-going fiasco at Manston.

The wrecking ball is swinging into all our lives… and those of our children and grandchildren.

Who was it that said –  “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

It’s a sentiment I feel passionately about. And yet wilfully blind destruction is all around us.

Destitution? Really Karen I hear you ask. Well yes it’s growing, (it’s a precursor to the reintroduction of workhouses surely?) The Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) states that more than 1 million children in the UK are ‘living in extreme poverty, unable to meet basic needs.’ In other words living in destitution.

A recent major report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) shows, ‘a doubling of destitution rates in the past five years due to benefit cuts and rising living costs. (And) estimates that nearly 3.8m people overall experienced destitution in 2022.’ In the sixth richest country on the planet!

The report highlights ‘the reliance on food banks and charity handouts, with adults frequently going hungry and lacking essential items. Disabled individuals, Black British, Caribbean and African households, and lone parents are disproportionately affected. The JRF urges all political parties to commit to eradicating destitution and overhauling benefit rates.’

I agree. It is time overdue for all political parties to commit not only to eradicating destitution but to also have policies and targets that thoroughly rescind poverty. One way of doing this would be to shake-up Universal Credit. Thanet was a pilot area for the introduction of UC and I saw first hand the impact on families – lone parent families in particular. I also saw many more people forced out to sleep rough, and in cars and sheds.

It beggars belief that we had a Home Secretary Suella Braverman  who referred to living in tents as a ‘life-style choice.’ I can assure you that simply isn’t the case.  Rather it’s a visible symbol of a broken country.

You can see the open letter from Crisis here – Open letter to Home Secretary Suella Braverman on Government proposals to criminalise the use of tents by people sleeping rough | Crisis | Together we will end homelessness

Speaking of broken… Kent County Council is pretty close to broke. As are many many other local authorities. KCC say they are now burning through reserves to keep going and ‘will have spent just under one quarter of its usable reserves in the two years to April 2024, dropping from £408m to £316m.’

There’s a staff recruitment freeze in place and plans to make the council even more lean. Cuts will impact services – of that I’ve no doubt. And many services are already threadbare. But that isn’t to say I don’t believe KCC staff wont be as hard working and as diligent as ever.

KCC is just one small piece of the overall Local Authority funding jigsaw. The Local Government Association (LGA) warned in July ‘councils in England face a funding gap of almost £3bn over the next two years just to maintain current services, the situation looks set to deteriorate even further by the time the general election rolls around.’ I guess Labour will be left to pick up the pieces…

Meanwhile the promise of £460M for a new hospital in East Kent is now totally off the table, making vital health services ever more difficult to deliver and planning to meet our populations health needs even more challenging. The cash remember was supposed to come from a £3.7 billion pot which the government has set aside to deliver 40 ‘new’ hospitals by 2030. That cash has now been diverted to hospitals with RACC problems.

The National Audit Office has also confirmed that, ‘more than a billion pounds of the £1.7bn committed to reforming the adult social care system in December 2021 has been diverted to other care priorities. Only £729million may now be spent between 2022 and 2025 on reforming the adult social care system – representing a 58% fall in the budget”. This is why the healthy elderly languish in hospital beds – there’s frankly no safe way of discharging them. Nor supporting them adequately when they are discharged. This is shameful.

So don’t get old. Or be old. Don’t be young, don’t be on benefits (whatever your circumstances,) don’t need health care and heaven forfend you’ll ever require social care. And as mortgage payments surge and rents continue to rise don’t become homeless. Or Braverman will slap a fine on your tent, send you to court, and then possible to prison. Which like every other public sector institution is also broken.

It all amounts to the same thing as far as I can see – time for a General Election.

60 Comments

  1. Karen says the action in October by the resistance movement Hamas was a war crime but she fails to use that charge against Israel which has used the most horrific military weaponry in what many call genocide against innocent and unarmed Palestinian men, women and children.
    The mass murderer Netanyahu has already been referred to the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
    The US makes a mockery of the Security Council at the UN by this constant knee-jerk reaction of vetoing any resolution criticising Israel. How many more times do we have to hear how Israel has a right to defend itself? But so have the Palestinian territories but this necessity always falls on deaf ears.

    • It’s the Hamas terror organisation who hide in hospitals and refugee camps who are putting their own people in danger. It’s also the Hamas terror organisation that murdered 1200 unarmed people that pushed the Israelís into this action. I really do feel for the Palestinians civilians but Hamas is responsible for this onslaught .

      • There is no evidence that the resistance movement known as Hamas is hiding in hospitals. No evidence whatsoever.
        The murders in Palestine began in 1948 and continued ever since, using Palestinian children as target practice. If any group is terrorist it is the Israeli IDF. They are so brave their only targets are women and children.
        I think it is obvious which side I am on and proud to be so. It is the side of truth and justice.

        • Robert edwards, You need to take your blinkers off and stop reading the far left socialist propaganda . If you honestly believe what you have just typed you are more deluded than I previously thought.

          • Concerned, I do not need leftist propaganda to form a personal view. I have been aware of Israel’s aims for decades. The persecution of Palestinians goes back to 1948 when Jewish terrorist groups attacked Palestinian villages, murdering entire people and throwing their bodies down wells. Does Deir Yasin mean anything to you?

  2. Very well put Karen! You just about summed up the appalling condition the country finds itself in, especially the “JAM’s” the Just about Managing of most working people nowadays! I survived the second world war, although my older sister Beryl didn’t, and as someone who became a child refugee, I am deeply upset at what Israel is doing to the Palestinians in Gaza, and like you urge everyone concerned for a cease fire! Killing thousands of women, children and babies is a war crime! OK, Hamas did the same and are proclaimed a “Terrorist” organisation, if so then Israel should also be proclaimed a “Terrorist” state” because children, and babies cannot be supporters of Hamas so why are they being killed in their thousands? I have been a monthly donor to Medical Aid for Palestinians for many years, and make extra donations over the phone on 020 7226 4114, as and when funds become available, and I urge readers to do the same!

      • Please elaborate on your flippant comment, Ms Pink. Are you trying to suggest that Medical Aid for Palestinians is a front for so-called terrorism?

      • Peter you really are a prick! Israel is killing thousands of innocent children, babies, the old and disabled, and are starving over 2 million people to death, by cutting off food, electricity, water, and medical aid, and you have to come up with some stupid remark like that! Readers Ms Pink is Also Known As (AKA) Peter Checksfield, don’t buy his books!

        Israel is now a terrorist state, and has learned from German NAZI’s who destroyed Warsaw similarly by reducing it to the ground during the 2nd World war! Gaza has been turned into a Ghetto, and no one is allowed in or out so its a concentration camp! My sister Beryl was killed by German bombing, when she was still young, which is why I am so appalled as to what the Israeli’s are doing, if that makes me an anti-Semite then so be it! Donate over the phone to: Medical Aid for Palestinians on 020 7226 4114. Last word Peter, any goodwill people may have had for jews worldwide has been destroyed now!

        • But Peter’s in complete agreement with the leader of the Labour Party, would you abuse him with the same words?
          And I’ll spend my money on whatever books I choose, thanks.

        • And where do you think that money will end up?
          I hate seeing the misery of all these people. As I did watching what “Palestinians”/Israeli Arabs on Al Jazeera on the morning of 7/10/23 were doing. Along with footage elsewhere of what they’ve been doing since. There is no need for any of it. It is no accident it has happend at the demicentennial of the Yom Kippur/October War and 75 years after the Naqba – it is unlikely that anyone alive in 1948 will be alive for the centenary.
          Israel was formally created by the same organisation which created Universal Human Rights – simultaneously. The timing was no accident. In the decades since then Israel has been unsuccessfully attacked by its neighbours several times.
          Meanwhile, the former sponsors of the then Western looking Israeli Arabs – the USSR – along with the likes of Gaddafi, Terrorist International and Saddam have passed into history. Their new sponsor is Shia Iran. Which is in a desperate state, beating to death and gassing its young women. Whilst trying to prevent the Sunni Arab world from signing the Abraham Accords and permanently ending conflict with Israel. Having called the U.S.”The Great Satan” for more than 4 decades it now sells the gas and oil that are its children’s birthright to an even greater atheist Iblis which persecutes millions of Muslims in Xinjiang.
          This violence in Western Asia is Shia Tehran’s last play for survival. The country which invented chess isn’t very good at its own game. It only has the Houthi, Hezbollah and Gazan’s to play with. It’s aim is to make Israel expel Gazans into neighbouring Sunni states. Which Tel Aviv, Cairo & bin Salman are aware of. This act would trigger the Ummah to Jihad, as a consequence of what is written in the second Sura – “The Cow” – of the Qur’an.
          Poor Israelis and even poorer Gazans are paying the price for the Ayatollah’s last play of their Great Game. And well intentioned “Useful Idiots” in the rest of the World unwittingly assist the elderly theocrats in their fight for survival.
          All the while Arabs have and continue to serve in the I.D.F, the Israeli police, Mossad and the Israeli judiciary. Yet Gazan children’s heads continue to be filled with this bile:-

          https://twitter.com/DrEliDavid/status/1724448506344100309?t=tUpZPveu1M6FaYSu9PW4Pw&s=19

  3. I think Israel are out of control. Yes what Hamas done was evil . But now the murder of innocent people in Palestine has gone beyond revenge. And the world sits by and let’s it happen. Lots of talk but no action . And talking to Israel just falls on deaf ears.

  4. It is not right ,what is happening in Gaza,but Hamas ,knew exactly ,what would happen ,when they attacked Isreal .Hamas does not care about their own people,just a murdering unelected terrorist organisation ,plain and simple. Isreal is not right in doing what they are doing .Hamas knew a very strong reaction would come.

  5. Is it not time that KCC Councilors, TDC Concillors and Kent MPS draw attention to appalling productions of the ELBIT company in Sandwich’s Discovery Park for the Israel and other war making goverments which are used to kill innocent people?

  6. Braverman is in no position to ‘slap a fine on’ anyone’ tent! What are you talking about?
    And you say you want a ceasefire; but the Labour Party doesn’t. So who do you propose to replace the Conservatives with?
    The Labour Party put a lot of effort into being unelectable, fair enough, they’re not now. After the next election, the Conservative government will probably be replaced by a conservative government, that’s not only my opinion, it’s yours too (or it soon will be!) So, as you were!

  7. Quite right that tents are removed from high streets. As soon as I see them, I go to out of town shopping centres with private security instead… as do many people.

  8. This is the reason Western Asia is in flames. Generation after generation of indoctrination.
    The big question today is whether Hamas, in order to not be proven liars and terrorists hiding behind skirts, prams and toys, blows up Al-Shifa so that the I.D.F. does not find the extent of its duplicity/tunnels? Whilst creating another generation of martyrs to be revenged by subsequent generations.
    https://twitter.com/DrEliDavid/status/1724448506344100309?t=XFEmBP_Sf0k2z8pKtW1lrw&s=19

  9. If anybody honestly believes Sunak or anybody else in charge going forward is going to call a general election, while the Tories are something like 25 points behind in the polls, there is a bridge for sale. No-they will carry on for another 14 months ruining the country as much as possible, before it is forced.

  10. As always the Pink Checksfield comments negatively, and without much knowledge.
    Indeed I have asked people why they are not buying their goods in the high street, and the reasons are,cheaper on line, lack of choice, and the run down nature of many high streets.
    As someone who seems rooted on the spot in Birchington, how would he know what is going on in Ramsgate and Margate.
    The high street is owned by zombie businesses, who are hoping that the govt/council/anyone, will buy out their interest,for the price they paid for it.This will not happen.What is needed is for key sections of each high street to be acquired, at the lowest possible cost, for units to be broken up into small units, suitable for small businesses to deliver goods and services that are unique and not readily available on line.The High streets need to be destination places, to meet, eat and buy boutique goods.This is where art comes in.Spending sticking plaster sums of money on fixing up TDC’s knackered old buildings won’t do anything. The rest should be turned into housing and public service hubs, like advice and business centres.
    Now, Karen, was talking about social services and housing, and for my next trick.I can show how that sorry situation can be turned round.
    If you listen to the Pinl Checksfield, all you will hear is pointless invective, because he is frustrated that the clowns he voted for are proving so incredibly incompetent.
    Unfortunately,we have to wait another 12 months before we can sweep the augean stables, of people who have no idea of what poverty, destitution and homeless really mean in 21st century Britain.
    I have no great belief that the Labour party or anyone else can work miracles, but Starmer does have some impressive women as shadow ministers, and some of them have encountered the welfare state at ground level. I am afraid Sunak is a stakhanovite accountant, who has done well in life, and does not understand the lives of those in the 99% sector of Britain. As for the so-called silent majority, if they are all like the Pink Checksfield, a period of quiet would be appreciated.

  11. DO NONE of you HAVE ANY views on the activities of the Elbit in East Kent, manufacturers who make and sell weapons of war for Israel which are used to kill innocent people or they all blibd and deaf to what if happening?

    • I’d rather they didn’t use weapons, but if they feel the need, then it’s good that it’s benefitting local workers instead of somewhere overseas.

    • Yes.
      Not allowing their manufacture here benefits nobody anywhere. If not here, they will be made elsewhere. Those whom they kill it main will still be maimed.
      I presume you don’t work there. Which gives you the necessary moral high ground that you obviously crave. It is the least bad if all scenarios.

    • They have been killing each other for thousands of years,only the type of weapons change,nothing will change in the future. Just carry on killing each other, in the name of religion.I feel sorry for the kids,but religion has and always breeds hatred.Check over the last 5/6 hundred years all over the world .No religion is free of blame or political persuasion

      • Ray the Bread, absolute drivel. Israel has only existed for 75 years. Previously, it was historic Palestine for thousands of years. Wars have existed globally for the same periods.
        The persecution of Palestinians by Zionist Israel began in 1948 and is a largely one-sided affair. A heavily armed nuclear power against a defenceless population. The victims are exclusively Palestinians. God help them.

        • When jews lived in palestine, before Israel was founded going back to biblical times ,each side fought each other.Check your history ,jews were there before, Israel was founded. I am not standing up for Israel ,but Hamas knew exactly what they were doing ,when they attacked Israel ,and what would come next.Take off your blinkers ,and find no one side is innocent

  12. Have you ever met him?
    Fortunately he is a safe country where they will feed him unmentionable parts of unidentified animals.As he has had a career of talking Offal.It is only right and proper that he is fed lots of it.I should imagine the public will find imaginative ways of entertaining him in the jungle
    It doesn’t matter who runs the Tory party, and there have been plenty of mad men and women who have tried and failed. After 13 years of failure and madness, the country needs boring, competent government.
    The Tory party needs to put an end to this madness, and with dignity reset and refresh.The longer it stays in office, the worse the pain will be for the Tory party.

  13. Ms Constantine weaponising fear in the last few lines I see. A trick of politicians of all colours. She’s probably a fan of the Behavioural Insight Team.

    • Well, Ms Braverman did say that she would prosecute charities that handed out tents to homeless people. That’s a fact.

  14. Ray the Bread, I didn’t say Jews were not in historic Palestine before Israel was imposed on Palestine by the Balfour Declaration, handed over to Lord Rothschild by the British.
    The Holy Land, as it was called, became part of the Crusades which were fought between Muslims and Christians. On the way to the Holy Land, Christian Crusaders would slaughter Jewish communities.

  15. See what your learn from checking history. And I never said they were or not all I said was the killings ,been going on forever,STOP RELIGIONS, and most trouble would end

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