Guest post: One teabag for each day

Originally a comment by latsot on 10 beans a day.

I read that Chartwells made £2bn profit last year and paid tax on about 2% of that. Needless to say, they are big Tory donors, their CEO is friends with ex Tory Prime Minister David Cameron, and there was no tender process for this contract. This is rife. It’s nowhere close to exaggeration to say that the Tories are using the current catastrophe to divert very large amounts of money to themselves and their friends. At last count there were exactly umpteen companies with no prior experience in the provision of PPE or meals or whatever, and which were losing money, who were suddenly awarded contracts worth tens of millions or more to do things they didn’t know how to do without ever having to tender. In many, many cases, they failed spectacularly to do what they were contracted to do with no apparent consequences to them.

It looks like asset stripping more than it looks like anything else. I genuinely think the government are delighted that the news has come out about the food parcels because it’s something they can (appear to) visibly fix, diverting attention from the enormous volume of corruption elsewhere. I don’t doubt that they’ll be able to convince a lot of the population that they took decisive action to feed our poor children against all the odds.

Some of the pictures of the food boxes are heartbreaking. We don’t know that they’re all real, of course, but there are boxes that appear to have contained half a pepper or carrot or fucking tomato. As many have said, surely the cost of cutting a pepper in half outweighs the cost of putting in a whole one. Some of the items don’t even meet basic hygiene and safety standards. For example, it is not remotely acceptable to decant tuna into a non-sterile plastic bag for transport and storage. The intention here is to punish rather than to feed the poor.

There is some background. In a previous lockdown, parents received vouchers instead of food boxes. This, of course, is a much better idea. It’s more scalable and leverages (yeah, I said leverages) the supermarket supply chains. This is especially important this time because the government were adamant that schools would be operational…. before opening them for one day to ensure as many children as possible infected each other then closing them to ensure the children infected as many people as possible at home. So the supply companies were arguably not ready while the supermarkets were.

Anyway, vouchers are generally speaking a much better idea, but there were a few concerns that parents might spend some of the money on booze and fags and scratchcards and the poor children might receive inadequate nutrition as a result. So it was decided to instead make it absolutely certain that poor children will receive inadequate nutrition by replacing the vouchers with these awful boxes.

It isn’t just children being punished in this fashion, either. Vulnerable adults have been receiving inadequate food parcels, too. And they too are designed to punish and humiliate for the crime of being poor. One I read of contained one teabag for each day. Again, the cost saving of counting out exactly the ‘right’ number of teabags (surely more than one cup of tea per day is an intolerable extravagance) can be barely worthwhile and the object is to punish and be seen to punish. What do they think people are going to do with all the excess teabags anyway, for goodness’ sake? (They’re going to give them to other people who need them, that’s what).

Not a good day to be British. And there are few enough of those already, these days.

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