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Is there such a thing as "severe poverty" in the UK?

306 replies

Niceguy2 · 25/03/2011 23:45

I'm being serious. I'm not talking about poor. Obviously there are plenty of people who either are poor or think they are. But I mean severe poverty.

I just read the Save the Children child poverty report which claims that 1.6million children live in severe poverty. And they define "severe poverty" as a family of 1 child who has an income of less than £7000 (or 2 kids with income < £12k).

But a quick tot up of benefits tells me that a family with 1 child would get the following each year:

Income Support £3412
Tax Credits £2850
Child Benefit £1055
Total 7317

And that's before you take into account housing benefit, council tax, free school dinners etc etc. So to me, no UK family should fall into that definition.

Then the report goes on to say they say someone is living in poverty if basic necessities are not met such as not "having enough shoes", not being able to pay for "home contents insurance" or children missing out on "having friends round" or "school trips".

When I hear "poverty" I think of children living in the streets with no food, not being unable to go on a school trip!

So given all that, is there such a thing as severe poverty in the UK? Or is it as I suspect that some families just can't manage their money?

I'm not trying to argue that £7k is a lot of money. I'm just saying that if that's the definition and the state gives you more, then surely there isn't such a thing?

OP posts:
BaroqueAroundTheClock · 28/03/2011 14:07

\link{\UNICEF also working in the UK on child poverty}

nah - must be a figment of our imaginations hey and it's just the workshy on benefits complaining they don't get enough Hmm

BaroqueAroundTheClock · 28/03/2011 14:09
SanctiMoanyArse · 28/03/2011 14:32

So who supports the severely disabled kids if their parents cannot get carers allowance? Do you think there are queues of childminders wanting to take aggressive disbaled kids- indeed, would YOU want your child to attend provision with one?

LMAO as well that life is so easy that people always know if they can support kids. Listen, when we had ds4 I was studying at uni and doing really well with a clear idea of where I woudl work; dh had a great job in transport planning...... he was made redundant, 2 of the boys were diagnosed with disability and all the plans and securities we thought we had pissed off as quickly as you can blink. I am now studying an evening a week when DH can watch them and caring; DH is now retraining FT and working self employed- he makes a profit but we woudln't eat and cover bills on that alone. Not yet.

View from the pedastal must be nice, wish I could still see it!


I used to work with people who had absolute poverty in this country; but they ALWAYS had a complicating issue- MH disorders and avoiding proper help was most common, but you'd get famillies dealing with hideous accomodation costs- many housing contracts are fixed over a eyar and if you lose your income for whatever reason at the start there are no guarantees HB will cover more than a % or that if owned the hosue will seel quickly. Insurances are often not worth the apper theya re wirtten on- bosses vanish and refuse to sign forms through sheer meanness or depression when a comapny goes under or ceases trading. Friend's employer was sent to prison for several eyars; ahrdly going to sign a form was he?

But real poverty is rare in the UK; hardship isn't. Benefits are sufficient to live on if you have a LHA house or a rented place within LHA limits and no debt. If you don't though- common as well if someone has been working and redundant or become ill- hardship is genuine. We are atm in hardship; only temporarily because Dh gets student finance and a late Easter means grants and loans a month alter than normal. Until then I have one pair of damaged (paint stained) jeans and my placement outfit (doing a placement a day a week in term time to improve employability) to get by on. Killer? nope. Tough though. But as I am unwilling to make the call to cancel ds2's cubs (only respite he gets from disabled brothers) or school trips (free school trips are a made up thing IME) over it then it's how it is. Next year Dh has to find extra work contracts (graduates) and I have to either get a job or PGCE place and if not we will go under and land in full dependency: not looking forward to that pressure! And in a place like our city where there is 20% unemployment with the extra responsibiltiies / PITA factors (eg two sets of taxi times to be about for each day, and school meetings for what is beginning to look like 4 sets of SEN- ds2 has dyslexia so low level support and IEP reviews, ds4 is regressing, no of course I won't have any more and yes they were all born in ft employment!- it will be hard. We would move if it weren't for the complications of just getting special ed places after years of fighting for the right ones and being part way through transition: places for next eyar long booked up, boys woudln't have schools to go to.
We moved here from home to allow me to train for what we hoped would (and still might) be a better income though which proves we are far from some Tebbit-esque image of mobility refusal.

Life's complicated, AFAICS if you get through it with NT kids, a surviving aprtner and no long spells of redundancy you're pretty lucky. hard work won;t always save you- DH's job didn't end through financial harships, they just merged with another firm. Hard work might buy you an escape which is what we are banking on but if all support to do that was ended then nobody would stand a chance of recovering fro the blows that life seems to like throwing.

I stopped posting on MN because of the attitudes to some claimants but you know what? I am proud of us and how we keep going. Kids come first, they haven't a clue how we struggle at times- that matters to us. We get up each day and do things, DH puts in 20 hour days often with uni and his self employment and I often do all night and study and help out at school; our motto is 'forever forwards' and we are as far from the stereotypes of lazy benefit grabbing shirkers as it is possible to be, and I absolutely refuse to be lumped in with that bunch or feel bad about our lives. Between us we paid 35 years of NI before things went awry, and THIS is what they were for.

SanctiMoanyArse · 28/03/2011 14:39

Am resisting chance to pul apart maypole's posts as well- DLA doesn;t cover food, or housing- just teh additional costs of a disability. So that would condemn anyone with a severe disability to death. Well I guess that'd cut the deficit then Confused

I don't have a problem with people whose opinions I find horrible (as long as they stay away from my kids as these are often the ones with workhouse ideals) but wish people would get full facts in place before they present alternative plans. HR care for DLA is under £300 a month (not sure about mobility) and that isn't going to pay rent, food and the rest is it? So if you cannot work what? Cardboard box? Are there many that'd fit a wheelchair anyway?

slhilly · 28/03/2011 14:55

The UK measures poverty using the Indices of Multiple Deprivation. Go to somewhere like Tower Hamlets or areas of Liverpool, which score highly, and you'll see significant deprivation. By significant, I mean people are being severely damaged by a lack of money and opportunity. Life expectancy falls by one year for every tube stop you make, travelling east from Westminster: 78 for men there, and 71 by the time you get to Canning Town, for example. There are places in Glasgow where life expectancy is in the 50s.

It might be worse in Haiti, but we have a moral obligation to do better here, given the immense resources we have as a nation - more than all bar 5 or 6 others, depending on how you measure it.

SanctiMoanyArse · 28/03/2011 15:05

Absolutely slh

And dont forget rural poverty either- not so easy to count the differences on paper but we used to cover a rural area 9charity I worked for) and rural poverty is hard: you might not have the mass-estate issues but things like access to basic food supplies can be restricted, or very costly due to bus fares or the high prices charged by local stores.

And YY to it not just being people on benefits- what was the stat, 80% of people on HB are not unemployed: they are either pensioners, disabled, carers or low income earners. That's a very interesting stat IMO. An example of how soemne employed can get in a mess is my friend; just gone back to work following relaitonship breakdown, got a 0 hour contract. Works all she is offered (has a son, ex emigrated so no help there) but when she isn;t offered any hours benefits people can take months to organise her claim as it ends each time she has hours, leaving ehr icnome free for weeks. At one stage she was pretty much living out of my freezer which dad was stocking from the kindness of the owner of the factory dad works in!

Niceguy2 · 28/03/2011 16:19

I'm not trying to argue that poverty = benefits or anything that simplistic. Just trying to say that does "absolute poverty" exist in the UK, not the relative/"severe" poverty which conjures up a certain image and affects the numbers we're talking about.

"Save the Children" are saying that 1.6 million kids live in "severe poverty" but under their definition, not being able to go on a school trip counts, as does not having "enough shoes". Now don't get me wrong, I don't want to see any child lead an uncomfortable existence but let's be honest about the description and the size of the problem.

To me, "poverty" is going to bed without food, without a home and/or being unable to pay for heating, electricity & water. I want to know the scale of that problem. Given we've not got a endless bucket of money, it makes sense to me to target those children as a priority rather than make bold claims about millions of kids with a very wishy washy definition.

OP posts:
Niceguy2 · 28/03/2011 16:23

Oh and for those unable to pay their basic utility bills, why can't they? Is there a valid reason or not? I know a woman who over winter was upset because she couldn't afford to have the heating on each day and her and her kids were cold. She could only afford to have the heating on 4 days a week. Strangely she always had money for her 20 a day ciggie habit.

So to me, that's self inflicted hardship. If you can't pay your gas bill so your kids can be warm but can find £7 a day for cigarettes then should we be trying to give people like that more money?

OP posts:
TheSecondComing · 28/03/2011 16:42

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SanctiMoanyArse · 28/03/2011 16:45

How do you differentiate niceguy between the person who buys ciggies and the eprson who is paying someone to give their kids a few hours extra reading help / footie club membership / childcare so they can study (only covered at HE level; had to find ours when I did access from CB, sure I couldn't do it now?

'Life' dictates that there has to be a small surplus to cover emergencies, and indeed to allow the sort of expenditure that gets people back stable again- interview outfit, car for soem career paths / locations. how do you control who ahs the wherewithal to improve the lives of them and their children, and who loses becuase they might spend it on fags.

As an aside I remember years ago encountering some study that single parents who smoked had lower stress levels but no links and before anyone accuses me, nope absolutely do not smoke, neither does dh. No idea how anyone could afford to.

I actually do think it's appalling if missing out on a school trip is caused by poverty; why should a child's education be affected by their aprents beingc arers, for example? Now I don't mean the ski trips that hardly anyone can go on but for example, the visit to a Synagogue ds3 is going on next week. Or swimming lessons- £20 for the bus for school lessons IIRC, yet IMO very important (though I grew up by a canal and remember the child who drowned so am particularly funny about that).

Ultimately if we cut lots from the just-coping famillies to focus 100% on all others you would allow those chidlren less opportunities- ds's cubs costs us £30 a term, it's the only respite he gets in the absence of young carers (3 year waiting list). I suspect long term that would impact on those children's earningc apabilities and in turn tax revenues, plus studies already show those children are more susceptible to worse health outcomes etc- a roof doesn;t guarantee it's not a damp one, after all- and health costs the state a lot.

But then as what is effectively being said here is that ds2 and ds4 should lose out through their brother's disability on the basis that some are even worse off than us, I will withdraw from the thread becuase like any Mum, I will fight to keep my children's lives as full of potential as possible- and if money gets any tighter for us then we would not only be homeless (private LL, £200 above LHA threshold, nobody woudl touch us with a self employed low earner ) but unable to give him the extras such as respite he currently benefits from. he, and we, did not ask for this and I refuse to accept that as taxpayers (albeit tiny amounts, but lifelong ones nevertheless) we are worth abandoning along the wayside. Which in all honesty with services vanishing left right and centre is how it feels.

ThisIsANiceCage · 28/03/2011 16:45

I know a woman...

I know a man...

I know (or heard on telly or was told by a mate of a mate down the pub what's the difference) of a politician fiddling her expenses, an accountant colluding in fraud, a consultant faking his timesheet, a lady who lunches who shoplifts, a banker with his hand in the till.

Just goes to show.

I know a man who's a rapist, a driver who killed someone, a white person who's a murderer.

Just goes to show.

I know an asylum seeker who dropped litter, a lawyer doing cocaine.

Just goes to show. In my book. Lock em up. Don't give em money. People like that.

There may be a man who isn't a rapist, a lawyer who doesn't take drugs. A driver who hasn't killed anyone, a white person who hasn't murdered, a banker who doesn't steal. An honest accountant, and lunching lady and even a politician. And an asylum seeker who sweeps in front of her house and clears her neighbour's drive of snow.

But we can't take the risk. The poor will suffer.

Because I know a woman. I know a man.

BaroqueAroundTheClock · 28/03/2011 17:09

oh fgs - how many times does it have to be said that poverty isn't just a lack of money, and that throwing money at someone isn't going to solve the problems??

Do you really think that one pair of shoes is enough?

My DS's "need" 6 pairs of shoes (8 if you include the pilmsols) between them. They need school shoes, shoes for wearing at home, DS1 needs trainers for PE.

That's how many shoes they own, they don't currently have any wellies that fit, or boots, or slippers, of course with summer coming up I'll need to buy them some sandals. I shop at shoe zone (eve I with my strict budgeting and very very little debt to pay can't afford "decent" shoes for all of them).

And surely not being able to go on school trips is a poverty of opportunity?

Poverty is SO much more than a lack of money. often, for those that have known nothing else all their life a cycle of hopelessness and despair.

maypole1 · 28/03/2011 18:32

LegoStuckinMyhoover its always amazing to me how people who claim to have no money can afford to have yet more children, smoke, have sky and x box to me somone who is living in a mud hut eating maze is poor

if you have no food in your house and still have and £££ of equipment then you are a fool and should not be in charge of any child

not being able to buy leroy and your 20 other children the lastest phone is not poor

it these people stopped having so many bloody kids and paid a tutor for their children instead of 20 b&h then they wouldnt be in the issue their in

its up to these people parents to do better for their children if they wont we have people to deal with this

instead of begging for yet more money from the sate the lefties should be telling these children parents to stop having children you cannot afford to raise

its ouragous to have 10 kids with no way of supporting them then reach out your begging hand and say oh if you dont give them benafits then their children will starve
well let them sell their flat screen or heres a thought LET THEM GET A JOB TO FEED THEIR football team and if they wont get a job them let them starve and take their children

i have no time for people who use their children as a way in wich to scronge from the state their even worse than people who scronge who have no children

were are the jobs you say its funny our bone idel can never seem to find a job but the immigrant who cannot claim anything always seems to find work its funny how starvation motervates somone to get a job

usualsuspect · 28/03/2011 18:33

maypole1 .... yes dear

TheSecondComing · 28/03/2011 18:38

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NorthernGobshite · 28/03/2011 18:38

Ahhh, maypole the old "if they can afford fags" argument. People living in poverty are allowed some pleasures in life surely??? Clearly you're a tory.

usualsuspect · 28/03/2011 18:39

oh and Maypole you are a twat

BaroqueAroundTheClock · 28/03/2011 18:40

well yes the immigrant is usually able to work unsociable hours (nights, weekends, and work multiple jobs, and 50,60+ hours a week) - that's not possible if you have children,

And who exactly do you think will look after all the children of those "feckless" parents who supposedly had children to live off the state Hmm.

You really do have no idea do you? You made that obvious with your post about only people who are disabled and are being medicated for MH issues being "allowed" to claim benefits. DUH! Many of those people already work! (and you missed the vital part that people who are working claim benefits too

I would LOVE a job, and indeed am desperately hoping I find one when DS3 starts school in September, I fear it may not be so easy, I can't take a job under 16hrs a week - no tax credits, and lose your other benefits (aka be horrendously worse off). I can't work 40+ hours a week, I simply won't be able to pay the 20% (though I think it's going up to 30% soon if it hasn't already?) that I will be required to pay for childcare for DS2 and 3. And I refuse to leave a child that has only just turned 11 at home on their own during school holidays all day every day. 20-25hrs is going to be bad enough for him

I can NOT work nights, or weekends. I can't work lates or earlies (childcare issues - simple fact there is none of those times) - round here that severely limits the number of jobs.

If you think that there are millions of people on benefits who had children just so that they could live off the state you are even more delusional than I could imagine .

NorthernGobshite · 28/03/2011 18:41

Poverty is not just about not having money, its about lack of oppurtunity and being marginalised from society.

Its being the child who never gets to go to school trips, its the child who knoes that no matter how bright they are they won't be able to go to University, its the mother who can't afford new shoes for her child, its the man who can't afford to get the bus to an a day in someone elses shoes and then judge.

SanctiMoanyArse · 28/03/2011 18:44

Maypole did you even read my post?

bone idle? really? I wish! I wish I had the choice to be, anyway; as it is I am up all night and all day and grab sleep in the middle.

No childcarer locally will touch ds1. I don;t blame them/.

Scrounger? Like hell. I paid taxes for years, and that's why they call it national insurance.

No btw, we don' have a flatscreen, sky, kids don't have phones (yet) (we do due to kids being scattered across four schools). I have zero interst in a flatscreen actually or sky, might get myself an android when I get back to work.

All kids with one father, all conceived and born with FT work in house etc etc etc

I refuse to accept being called names when I had zero choice in any of this and neitehr did DH. Dh works every hour he can to do the best adn there genuinely are no jobs here, even the Tories admit that- their advice is to people here move; but to where? theyc an;t hguarantee autism specific schooling places if we do, palces long gone; they can't offer us a house and system won;t house us just because we land somewhere.

In two years i should ahve this sorted and have a very respectable job all being equal. And Dh will have been able to turn the business to a FT profit. But climbing back on our feet takes time and I will not sit by and be villified for that becuase I never chose it and anyone who did choose this lifestyle would ned their kids taking away- i don;t eman the poverty but watching teh chidlren ahve to cope with autism which is a fucker of a disorder in my experience.

TheSecondComing · 28/03/2011 18:47

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

expatinscotland · 28/03/2011 18:48

Don't bother feeding it, people.


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usualsuspect · 28/03/2011 18:48

TSC You can't argue with stupid Grin

SanctiMoanyArse · 28/03/2011 18:51

Oh and FWIW there's no system ATM to distinguish who the severely disabled are

or even a proper definition of it.

All getting HR DLA means is that you need night care AND day care; there are many less severely disabled children getting HR DLA because they sleep through when their non sleeping counterparts with lesser needs get HR becuase they are awake all night: that's probably right in terms of the 'care burden' and what it costs for carers to employ cover as well if they get sick or need to do something radically indulgent like sleep themselves, but means there is no database of the most severe.

Of course DLA is changing so people with autism will struggle to get anything because of the way the new ATOS assessments work.

BaroqueAroundTheClock · 28/03/2011 18:54

ahh welll Santi - shoot me now - I have 3 kids, one concieved when we'd only just started to dig ourselves out of a financial hell hole (I still get shudders thinking about those days), I smoke (fyi £12.46 a week, or £7.67 a week depending on whether I've done an online shop from asda).

AND - DS1 has a phone, it's not an iphone, or a blackberry, but he has a phone.

However, to counter that I don't actually own a TV - this is the LL's TV - and big old fat clunky one, which is worryingly temperamental. Funnily enugh when it dies I will replace it with a flat screen..............because that's all they sell these days! Yep that's right the flat screen LCD TV's are the only ones that places such as Tesco sell - just looked you can pick one up for £85 new, which of course means that when other people "upgrade" their "old" flat screen TV they also go pretty cheaply second hand,.

Flat screen TV is really no big deal, it just means they've bought their TV someties within the last oooo I don't know 4 or 5yrs......

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