Posted on November 18, 2018  
by Noel Guilford

This blog is for entrepreneurial business owners, the sector of the population I share most time with and whose dreams, goals and fears I share. Entrepreneurial businesses are mainly small – less than five staff – but are the lifeblood of the economy (whatever politicians and the media may think).

Most of us who run our own business or work for someone who does – and that is most people who don’t work in the public sector – do so because we care about our customers, staff and the community we support. The wellbeing of not only or families but our friends and neighbours is important to us.

And in my blog I try to include thought provoking as well as actionable content, but every now and then an event occurs that is even more important and demands our attention if we mean what we say about who we care for.

Such an event occurred this week with the publication of the report on his visit to the UK by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

It makes for difficult reading.

It found that the UK government has inflicted “great misery” on its people with “punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous” austerity policies driven by a political desire to undertake social re-engineering rather than economic necessity, and that levels of child poverty were “not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster”, even though the UK is the world’s fifth largest economy,

About 14 million people, a fifth of the population, live in poverty and 1.5 million are destitute, being unable to afford basic essentials, he said, adding “It is patently unjust and contrary to British values that so many people are living in poverty.” Compassion had been abandoned during almost a decade of austerity policies that had been so profound that key elements of the post-war social contract, devised by William Beveridge more than 70 years ago, had been swept away.

In an excoriating 24-page report, which every business owner should read, the eminent human rights lawyer said that in the UK “poverty is a political choice”.

He cited the Chancellor’s decision in this month’s budget to give a tax cut to the rich rather than using that money to alleviate poverty for millions, adding: “Austerity could easily have spared the poor, if the political will had existed to do so.”

I am ashamed. This is no longer the country I grew up in and love. Greed and self-interest have become the prevalent characteristics of our so-called political leaders and big businesses.

I’ve said before that enough is enough. No child in the UK in this century should have to go hungry while the powerful and the wealthy look the other way. It’s not someone else’s problem – its ours. Every ordinary business owners must make the case for change. Will you be one of us?

Noel Guilford

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