Television and the rest of the media like to show Britain as a rich country of successful business people, footballers and film stars. But like Nigeria, Britain is a rich country of poor people. For many people poverty has increased in recent years. Six million people are paid less than the legal minimum wage. One in five (13million people) live below the official poverty line.
Last year just over 54,000 people were accepted as homeless by their local government. About 7,500 people sleep rough each night in London. In London tenants in private property pay an average of nearly three quarters of their salary on rent. Across England it is nearly half their income.
Gas and electricity prices have doubled over the last decade. Meanwhile average wages have fallen over the same period. One in three people could not afford to adequately heat their homes last winter. According to government statistics around 24,000 older people die prematurely each year from the cold (they do not have the money to heat their houses properly). 7,366 people were admitted to hospital suffering from malnutrition last year. This is a rise of more than 50 per cent in just four years. Up to a million people may be using food banks.
Three and a half million adults go hungry so they can feed their children. Well over half a million children live in families who cannot afford to feed them properly. One in five children is in a house that is cold and damp.
This shows that economic growth is not the answer to poverty, we need a massive re-distribution of wealth – the average income in Nigeria is N50,000 for every woman, man and child. In addition, climate change means that the Global South cannot follow the path of the industrialised world.