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Child poverty set to rise..

(40 Posts)
madhattershouse Tue 11-Oct-11 00:24:07

This article is suggesting that child poverty is on the rise BEFORE the new benefits changes are implemented. This can only get worse. As this site is for parents I wondered what the consensus of opinion would be on this article

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 11-Oct-11 07:42:56

Everyone's disposable income is set to drop as a result of increases in inflation, changes to some benefits and increases in tax. However, I think plans for the new Universal Benefit which takes away that big drop in income when someone takes on part-time work, for example, will improve on that for the people that need most help. On the article... the last government substantially failed to meet targets (only got half way there) on reducing child poverty, despite having billions of spare cash to throw at the problem. If a government fails to improve child poverty in a boom, the expectations for what can be acheived in a recession situation have to be lower.

jackstarb Tue 11-Oct-11 15:13:15

This is an interesting blog post looking at the value of the child poverty target and it's real impact on the lives of poor children.

www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/7304383/the-poverty-of-the-poverty-measure.thtml

BadgersPaws Tue 11-Oct-11 15:24:42

That definition of "Poverty" is linked to an average and as such will probably never go away. You could double the income of every single household in the country and not one child would be lifted out of "poverty".

It's a used as a political football for politicians to make noises about yet never genuinely tackle or resolve.

It never used to be this way and it doesn't have to be today.

The original Rowntree surveys of poverty in the 1800s define the "reasonable" necessities of life and went into a level of detail that even worked out how what food you needed to survive, studied local prices and then compared them to income.

That's real and that makes a difference and struck a massive blow for those who were claiming that low wages made poverty rather than the commonly held view at the time that the poor were responsible for their own situation (sound familiar?).

But that takes work and effort, and the people making babbling noises about poverty while continuing to use a system that means that it will never go away don't really want to help anybody.

SinicalSal Tue 11-Oct-11 15:28:44

Aren't social welfare rates set in relation to the neccessities of life, rather than average income though? in which case there must be some research done.
Not sure though.

I do get that poverty is now generally defined in realtive rather than absolute terms.

BadgersPaws Tue 11-Oct-11 15:35:01

"Aren't social welfare rates set in relation to the neccessities of life, rather than average income though?"

Not sure....

"in which case there must be some research done."

Well if there is real research then the utter laziness and contemptuous treatment of the poor by those who use "average" related poverty figures is even worse...

"I do get that poverty is now generally defined in realtive rather than absolute terms."

The funny thing is that Guardian article introduces a term "absolute poverty" alongside the usual "relative poverty". Which is perhaps an admission that "relative poverty" really is a lot of nonsense. But even their "absolute" isn't absolute at all but based upon the averages for a particular year. I believe the word is "fail".

jackstarb Tue 11-Oct-11 16:00:12

From my link:

"The ‘poverty’ that the Institute of Fiscal Studies is talking about is defined by Eurostat as having an income below an arbitrary threshold: 60 per cent of the median income."

aliceliddell Tue 11-Oct-11 16:11:03

Child poverty getting worse under a Tory government? Really? Who knew?

ThePathanKhansWoman Tue 11-Oct-11 16:13:47

Yes and it fucks us all in the end. The shortsightedness, i know the country is in a hole, but these children are our future.Makes me want to spit.

jackstarb Tue 11-Oct-11 19:26:08

The trouble with focussing on a numerical value is it excludes so much and can be meaningless. I quite like Frank Field's 'life chances' approach.

For example, you could have two children growing up in poverty with the same household income. Child A has two parents who take an active part in her upbringing. They take her to the park, sing to her, read with her and ensure she eats and sleeps well and gets to school on time. Child B only sees one parent, is stuck in a chaotic home all day, and often misses school. Adding £10 per week to the household income might bring both children 'out of poverty' but in each case will have little material effect on their life chances.

I think most of us are interested in a long term, sustainable reduction in child poverty. We want to see the poorest children given every opportunity to grow into wage earning, self reliant adults. By playing the numbers gain, Labour wasted an opportunity. There is little achieved in lifting 1000's of children 'out of poverty' if come a recession or Tory-led government they all immediately fall back.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 11-Oct-11 21:51:05

Labour not only wasted the opportunity, I think they made the problem worse. The phrase about 'give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats every day'... They threw money at poverty but didn't get the poor off benefits and into jobs. They gave more money for each child born to a poor family but, in doing so, made it impossible for the family to find a job that would match their income. And they borrowed the money to do this... Total waste of time.

jackstarb Tue 11-Oct-11 22:58:47

Cognito - There is some evidence that Family Tax Credits plus housing benefit increased the number of children in poorer families. The parents had an incentive, or at least the support, to have more children. So now we have even more children under threat of poverty.

However it's worth noting that working tax credit actually reduced the number of children born to single mums. Woman were incentivised to work, which meant keeping their family size small.

Neither impact appears to have been anticipated....it all seems to have been about the short term numbers.

jackstarb Wed 12-Oct-11 07:04:16

www.bristol.ac.uk/cmpo/publications/papers/2007/wp177.pdf

Does Welfare Reform effect fertility (a UK Based study).

- It was based on Labour's first term when government spending per child increase by 50%.

pdb Wed 12-Oct-11 08:57:09

Hi, I feel quite depressed to see that my 3 children are classed as living in poverty. The stupid thing is the thing pushing us below the threshold is the maintanance payments my husband has to pay for one child. I dont want to get into the rights and wrongs of having to pay for this BUT the amount they take from us is based on my husbands earnings and not hers, we know she has plenty of money and yet here we are struggling to pay bills. I'm not moaning about the fact he has to pay but the rate set is unfair as it does not take into account that we as a family of five have a smaller income than her as a family of two and yet we still have to pay extra to her thus putting our children into poverty. I wish mumsnet could campaign against the CSA on this issue.

happyinherts Wed 12-Oct-11 09:02:59

EMA payments being abandoned for poor students has thrown our family into poverty.

Total family income including working families tax credit is around £13K but we've lost the £30 EMA to enable a very bright teenager to afford college expenditure. That means I'm trying to pay full adult fare because he has to leave at 7.30 and all costs of course materials. No, he doesn't get a bursary because we don't fit the criteria being in work.

I'm trying desperately to continue with this. It will be for two years but coupled with a pay cut, hours cut and general inflation, I can see quite easily how more children are falling into the benefits trap.

malinois Wed 12-Oct-11 09:10:51

badgers the poverty line is set at 60% of median income, not mean income so of course it's possible to have no-one under the poverty line (although not likely)

inmysparetime Wed 12-Oct-11 09:22:15

There are two ways to take "all children out of poverty" as it is measured by average income, first is to make all childless households poorer. It would be effective, but in actual fact everyone would be worse off.
The other is to effectively pay people to have children, subsidising families to a level above the poverty line. Doing this would cost a fortune that the government doesn't have, and drive the poverty line upwards as the subsidies will raise average income.
It's a no-win situation while poverty is measured by average income.

BadgersPaws Wed 12-Oct-11 09:36:05

"badgers the poverty line is set at 60% of median income, not mean income so of course it's possible to have no-one under the poverty line"

Very true. But in any society with any reasonable spread on incomes it's going to be impossible. It also means that the so called fight against poverty is not connected with people's actual living standards and quality of life but just about equalising incomes of people.

And using the median has some very odd effects. Every single person earning over the median limit could suddenly have an income of millions of pounds and you would not shift that median income one penny. So the top 50% of society can become staggeringly rich and not touch what is claimed to be "relative" poverty, not one person would be lifted out of "poverty" or moved into it.

You'd end up being able to eliminate poverty by completely ignoring how wealthy that top 50% is and just making sure that everyone else earns about the same.

Utter nonsense.

SinicalSal Wed 12-Oct-11 11:10:48

but the countries that consistently measure highest in hppiness and quality of life ratings are those where there isn't such a large spread of incomes. More equal societies could score low in 'relative' poverty ratings. (And of course in absolute poverty, irrelevant being equal if it's just equality of starvation)

BadgersPaws Wed 12-Oct-11 12:26:39

"but the countries that consistently measure highest in hppiness and quality of life ratings are those where there isn't such a large spread of incomes."

And this is almost exactly my point...

Setting aside the question about whether such a statement is even true what appears to be happening is that people using the suffering of the poor to push for a reduced spread of incomes in a country. It's got nothing to do with fighting poverty and everything to do with a social and political agenda of income equalisation.

If a reduced spread of incomes does lead to a happier country then push for that on it's own merits. Don't use the poor to achieve it.

"Relative Poverty" is not a real measure of poverty, there needs to be some serious studies done to assess the genuine level of poverty in this country and barking up the tree of "relative poverty" is a complete and utter waste of time.

jackstarb Wed 12-Oct-11 12:42:17

"but the countries that consistently measure highest in hppiness and quality of life ratings are those where there isn't such a large spread of incomes."

Sinicalsal - that's kinda true (although wonderfully equal Finland also has high rates of gun crime and suicide).

But even we accept equality and well-being seem to correlate, that doesn't make it causal. Maybe the kind of society which has a good rate of income equality also happens to have high rates of well being (say, because of an excellent education system, high employment rates, good supportive communities).

In that case chasing income equality (to the detriment of anything else) may not achieve well being at all.

ChickenLickn Thu 13-Oct-11 00:12:51

greater income equality prevents poverty.

BadgersPaws Thu 13-Oct-11 00:35:36

"greater income equality prevents poverty."

If you define "poverty" as being having an income below a certain threshold of the median income then all you're actually saying is:

"Greater income equality prevents people below the median having unequal income."

Which is really a bit pointless isn't it? It doesn't actually say anything other than "doing the definition of something means that you're doing the definition of something."

Genuinely poor nations will often have incomes that are very similar, so according to "relative poverty" they're not poor.

So the statement that "greater income equality prevents poverty" is not only totally hollow but patently false.

inmysparetime Thu 13-Oct-11 07:08:16

High unemployment ironically reduces child poverty, as more people without incomes reduces the median income very effectivelygrin

BadgersPaws Thu 13-Oct-11 08:20:56

"High unemployment ironically reduces child poverty, as more people without incomes reduces the median income very effectively"

Not true, half of the population would need to be unemployed before the median income was reduced by even one single penny.

If you've got five people who earn £10, £10, £100, £1000 and £2000 then median salary is £100.

If those two people at the bottom suddenly earn nothing the median doesn't shift one penny.

If those two people at the top suddenly earn £1 million the median still doesn't shift one penny.

As said, nonsense.

Fighting "relative poverty" is just another politically motivated endless quest that doesn't actually do anything and is never ending. It's the sort of vague notion that people find hard to say "no" makes politicians sound good until you stop and think about it. It also means that those earning above the median income, those same politicians, can earn as much as they want without ever having to have their pay reduced as a part of the "fight" against relative poverty.

Once again, nonsense.

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