8 uncomfortable truths about living in the UK
1. Going to university is about to be a rich-kids-only sport.
Maintenance grants to students from low-income families have stopped. These grants were initially given to students who have neither a trust-fund nor Ma’ and Pa’ to fall back on when they run out of cash. They have been the lifeline for many students studying at university and have traditionally been used to pay for accommodation costs. Our government, made out of elitist public-school toffs, have taken this away and said that students now need to add this cash to the already gargantuan debt of £44,000 they are expected to leave their studies with. Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats Party said, “This is a very frightening prospect for young people and their parents… (The Tories) don’t understand what it is like to struggle.”
2. Sod the renewables, we’re going nuclear!
In 2015, solar power subsidies were cut by 87% whilst simultaneously handing out huge nuclear power contracts to French & Chinese companies to build an £18bn project on British soil. The government has also tried, and failed thanks again to the House of Lords stepping in, to scrap subsidies for onshore windfarms, which is the cheapest form of green energy.
3. Our government is so cosy with the Saudis, they may as well be sharing a bed with them.
We sell them arms and spying equipment and turn a blind eye when they execute one of our citizens. We have such an unconditional love for them, it doesn’t matter about their stance on human rights, that women can’t drive or lack of judicial safeguards. They’ve got oil, so, swings and roundabouts.
4. For one of the richest countries in the world, our child poverty stats are staggering.
According to CPAG.org.uk, there were 3.7 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2013-14. That equates to 28% of all of our children; 9 in a standard class of 30 pupils. Not only that, but our dearest PM, Mr David Cameron, had the audacity to claim that income is not a factor in child poverty, but life chances are. Luckily, The House of Lords (who the Tories are trying to get rid of, FYI) voted decisively to stop this going through. However, income support is due to be slashed, under a devious cloak called Universal Credit, by up to £2,320 per annum for families with one child, or £3,980 PA if they have two or more.
5. And…our richest 1% own as much as the poorest 55%.
We have the 5th most unequal incomes of 30 countries in the developed world.
6. You likely suffer from SAD.
That’s Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as “winter depression.” SAD comes and goes with the seasons, and usually begins as the days get shorter and the weather gets wetter in the autumn. The stereotypes don’t lie, and winter in the UK truly is grim. A lack of natural light, sunshine and time outdoors is what triggers this depression that effects one in 15 people in the UK annually.
7. You probably have a booze problem.
Drinking is a huge part of our culture, and always has been. If you take it down to numbers, our stats aren’t great:
- More than 9 million people in England drink more than the recommended daily limits.
- Alcohol is 10% of the UK burden of disease and death, making booze the biggest lifestyle risk factor after smoking and obesity.
- £12bn per year is spent on healthcare, crime and lost productivity due to alcohol abuse.
- The average global intake of alcohol in adults is 6.2 litres per year, but the UK swallows an average of 11.6 litres each.
However, it’s no wonder we’re so stuck in our ways, it’s in our history.
In the 1700s we loved gin so much that “Gin Palaces” sprung up all over the country and the Government was forced to introduce the 1751 Gin Act, which restricted sales of the stuff. To curb our interest in gin, politicians enthusiastically encouraged the public to drink beer as it was felt to be a “more wholesome and temperate beverage.”
The Beer Act of 1830 then allowed home owners to brew and sell their own beer, and in effect allowed them to set up their own pubs from their living rooms. This resulted in 30,000 new “beerhouses” opening and public drunkenness being the norm. An observer coming to England wrote in 1831, “Everybody is drunk. Those who are not singing are sprawling.”
Now, the British pub is the cornerstone of communities, offering places to meet new people, talk about our days and drink our fine British ale. Most Brits go to the pub at least once a week, if not more, to get boozy and see friends. A recent study has also shown that those who regularly go to the local pub have more close friends, have improved happiness and overall health.
So, who’s up for a pint?
8. There’s a serious risk that our healthcare system could get a whole lot more unsafe.
The government is proposing to remove safeguards that protect how many hours our doctors can work each week. This is due to our National Health Service being grossly understaffed, underpaid and under-appreciated and leaving it in a state of emergency. Rather than investing money in training doctors and nurses, the solution seems to be “work more and pick up the slack.” The result of this means that junior doctors can be asked to work more, likely leading to tired, over-worked staff who are not good for patient safety.
And of course, at the same time, bursaries for trainee nurses and midwives have stopped.