Poverty in focus – Interview with Sir David Davis


As reported in the York Press:

“An entire generation faces being left behind by a runaway economy, a York-born MP has warned.

David Davis , who was born just off Walmgate and spent some of his childhood in London slums, said soaring house prices and living costs were making life difficult for many.

In an interview with The Press’s guest editor, Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, he spoke of his own experiences as a youngster and voiced fears about many people being left behind.

The Conservative MP for Haltemprice and Howden said nobody today suffered absolute poverty on the same level as his grandparents in York did, but he said many were suffering.

“The economics have moved,” he said. “I have two married children and they struggle with house prices and the cost of living.

”The price of everything has run away from them. Where you could get by on an average income of one earner in 1950, you cannot now.

”There is a whole generation who think the economy is running away from them. They cannot buy a house.

”Every time they save a bit more, it turns out to be not quite enough to make up for the house-price inflation.”

He said that despite the best efforts of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in York, “we do not understand all the drivers of poverty”.

He added: “I am a social mobility fanatic and my concern is not just that people do not have to suffer serious poverty but also that they have the means to get out of it on their own accord and that has vanished in modern society. We live in a socially stratified state.”

He said he had very fond memories growing up in Long Close Lane, between Walmgate and Piccadilly, and was never conscious of poverty in York as a child.

“I remember the distinction going from a prefab in York with electricity and an indoor loo to a slum in London and it was clear to me which was the better place,” he said.

Asked about the fact there were now four food banks in York, he said: “Of course, it’s an awful thing that people need to use food banks, but it is a wonderful demonstration of human nature that we have them.

”My grandfather was a long-standing communist. I remember one day a charity came to the door and although he had next to nothing, he gave money and came back grumbling.

”He said it should not be necessary, the state should do it all.

”He was a Marxist and I remember even then thinking ‘No, why should they?’.” Mr Davis said Britain should invest more in education to create a larger middle class, citing Finland as an example.”