The Conservative Government’s attempt to hide the growth of child poverty under its rule has to be one of the most sinister elements of its policy platform.
Poverty is entirely caused by lack of money – look it up in a dictionary and it will be defined as “the state of being extremely poor”, or words to that effect.
The Tories want to remove money from the way the UK measures poverty, changing to a series of “indicators” covering what the party risibly calls “life chances”.
It is an insult to the intelligence of anybody who understands the gravity of the current appalling situation.
At the moment, poverty is measured according to an internationally-agreed standard that is itself inadequate; a family is said to be in poverty if it earns 60 per cent, or less, of the average UK income – but incomes have been falling.
This means that, according to the current standard, familes that were in poverty when David Cameron came to office in 2010 are not anymore – despite the fact that they still don’t have enough money to cope.
But the number of families meeting the criteria is still on the rise: According to an article in The Independent quoting the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, out of 26,400,000 UK households there were “6.7 million families with adults in employment who meet the worrying criteria of living in poverty compared with a combined 6.3 million of retired and unemployed families living in poverty.”
That means there’s a lot of poverty for the Conservatives to hide.
The definition of poverty does need reform, in order to reveal the true extent of the problem – but this is not the way to do it.
Labour peers are to be applauded for their attempt to return honesty to this aspect of politics.
Note also that this is something that is really being done by the Labour Party, at this time, to stop Conservative injustice and corruption of the facts.
As such, of course, it has taken a position in the headlines behind the idle speculation about Jeremy Corbyn’s opinion on the future of the Falkland Islands.
What a shame our right-wing mass media cannot get their priorities right.
Labour peers will try to amend the welfare reform bill on Monday to stop the government abolishing income-related child poverty targets.
They will back an amendment tabled with cross-party support that would effectively neuter one of the key aims of the bill by forcing the government to present an annual report to parliament ithat includes conventional figures for child poverty.
Child poverty has until now been measured with reference to average household income, but the government believes the focus on income diverts attention away from the causes of poverty. In its current form the bill would abolish the income-related targets in Labour’s 2010 Child Poverty Act.
The legislation will be renamed the Life Chances Act, and its targets will cover indicators such as the proportion of children living in workless households.
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