Sunday, 3 July 2016

Redefining poverty

"The government wants to redefine poverty and do so by removing all income and material deprivation measures from the Child Poverty Act. Instead, it proposes to measure it based on workless homes and educational attainment. But most children in poverty live in households where at least one adults works and parents are already cutting back to provide for their children. It is difficult, argues Gill Main, to see how the government's proposals will help tackle child poverty."

"The Poverty and Social Exclusion research into poverty in the UK has revealed that children are at a higher risk of going without essentials than adults overall. However, detailed analysis of intra-household distribution among families with children finds that parents themselves are being pushed into poverty to provide for their children. They save money to spend on their children by skimping on meals or cutting back on necessities, such as postponing dentist appointments. Among adults, those who live with children have higher poverty rates than those who do not. Indeed, rates of poverty among this sub-group of adults are higher than among children themselves..."

"While living in a workless household increases the risk of child poverty (mirroring official statistics), a substantial majority of poor children 60 per cent live in households in which at least one adult works. These findings pose a challenge to government policy and rhetoric which positions poor families as trapped by a benefits system which does not provide the appropriate incentives for work, and poor parents as lacking the skills to provide for their children..."

"Coalition and now Conservative policy and rhetoric indicates a preference for individual and cultural explanations of poverty. This can be seen in decreasing social security entitlements and increasing conditionality. It can also be seen in how poor people are described: they live in `troubled families`, and may be `skivers` who need motivating to `take responsibility`. Extra money is seen as unlikely to help, as `feckless` parents may spend it on drink, drugs and gambling rather than on improving their children’s well-being. As a result, the problem of how to address child poverty is transformed from one best addressed through providing additional resources to poor families, to one best addressed by helping poor parents to overcome personal shortcomings."

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