Monday, September 27, 2010

Another Daily Mail Fail - and how they could make a difference

I am so behind in my list of things to write about, but I was so angry when I read this article in Friday's Daily Mail. I don't like linking to them, but I actually think it's important that we keep an eye on what they do and challenge their flawed assumptions wherever we can.

Essentially the story is about a family with six children living in a 2 bedroomed Council house. Yes, you read that right. 8 people, 6 of them aged under 7, are crammed into a a tiny house which in no way meets their needs. That's something we should all be angry about. We know that poor housing has a long term, detrimental effect on health. If these children continue to live in these conditions, the chances are that their life expectancy will be significantly less than a child from a more affluent background.  Their whole lives could be blighted by the failure of all parties in local and national government to sort out housing.

I've met many families in similar situations over the last 4 years. It breaks my heart to see the distress it causes.  The Daily Mail could use its position to run a big campaign to have more affordable housing built so that families like this one, and others who are living in private rented accommodation who really struggle to pay their rent. Wouldn't that be great if a national newspaper took this issue on?

But, sadly, the Fail has different priorities. The headline "Jobless Couple demand bigger home for them and their six children (who are named after celebrities)" gives you an idea of their agenda. They chose to criticise the couple for the names they gave their children and for the fact that they are unemployed. Have they any idea of the childcare costs for 4 pre-schoolers? One full time at a nursery will set you back around £500 per month up here and much more down south.  Have they any idea how much their parents would have to earn to be able to feed and clothe their family so that work would make them better off than being on benefits?

The Mail could choose to argue for better housing. Instead it chooses to demonise a family in desperate need. I think it's clear who's in the wrong here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree Caron. Theres nothing in the article which says that the father isnt looking for work, and in any case would that make the family better off? Having lived in Devon formany years, I can say that housing costs in Devon, and Plymouth are eye-watering. When we lived in mid-devon 4 years ago in a small 2 bed cottage (smaller than Wayne & Jenna's council house, although with the same number of bedrooms) it cost us £550 a month in rent. Council tax was £125 a month and utility bills added another £50 a month. So even if they only moved into a private sector 4 bed house (with the smaller kids sharing), rent would be nothing short of £1000 a month.

So council housing is their only option.


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