In recent years we have seen a major change in the use of the term ‘bank’. To secure a job at a high street bank was regarded as a secure employment for the whole of one’s working life. Things look very different today. Banks are closing branches across the nation at a rapid rate as online banking becomes the norm. Whilst financial bank outlets are in terminal decline other types of banks are sadly increasing.

Until recently I had never heard of ‘baby banks’. These community run initiatives provide young families with essential items so they can look after their children in these difficult times. That they have established themselves as a voluntary agency in response to real need is to be applauded. It is a terrible reflection upon the priorities of a rich society that they are so urgently required by families struggling with day to day living.

Food banks now appear in every part of our land. They provide not just for those struggling to survive on state benefits but also for people in work who do not earn enough in wages to cover their key bills such as food and heating costs on top of their rent or mortgage obligations. That one of the world’s leading economies has thousands of households dependent on food banks is a national disgrace.

There can be no justification for the unequal distributions of wealth such that working families struggle to provide the bare minimum of essentials to survive. People do not go on strike to lose money for no reason. That large sectors of the workforce now feel it necessary to take such action reflects the dire state of society. Every time the issues are raise with politicians they come out with a long list of things that they are doing to address the problems. These responses are vacuous. If they really are doing all they can to resolve the problems why is this not reflected in the reality of everyday living?

The inquiry into the handling of the pandemic will see Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock get their fees paid for participating in the examination of government failings in dealing with the health crisis. These ultra-rich men will now have thousands of taxpayers’ money to spend on expensive lawyers. The distribution of contracts to provide materials to cope with the covid outbreak has come into question. Many of the contracts awarded would appear to have gone to ‘associates’ of politicians. The whole financial dealings in the covid years need to be fully examined to uncover exactly who benefited from the supply of necessary equipment to tackle the problem.

We are a country that has already spent over one hundred million pounds on the Rwanda project. This ill-conceived plan faces multiple challenges in the courts costing even more money before it comes into operation. Could not this money be better spent on homelessness and food poverty? If the Government really cared about families in crisis it would do everything in its power to see that not a single penny was wasted. The consequence is strikes across the full range of public services. There is now a real need for voices to be heard demanding a better deal for working people. There is a warning from Chris Whitty that the annual death toll will be above expected rates in the coming few years directly resulting from poverty, underfunding of the failing health service and a lack of a coherent policy to improve things. A general strike looks more and more likely as the Government does not seem to want to talk to unions to reach a sensible settlement of the obvious grievances of many workers.

Baby banks and food banks that will soon be more in evidence than high street bank branches should never have been allowed to occur. There can be no more excuses.