Tag Archives: joseph rowntree foundation

Israel isn’t the only home of fake news – is it, Victoria Atkins?

Tory fake news: yes, they’re talking about child poverty.

Following up on the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s research showing the number of people in the UK who are destitute has doubled since 2018… it seems to have triggered Tory MP Victoria Atkins.

Check out this video clip:

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Economist Richard Murphy takes issue with the claim that 3.8 million more people being in work is any use in combating destitution:

To This Writer, it suggests that being in work is not the way out of poverty that the Tories keep parroting it is.

But they keep saying it. Isn’t it time someone debunked this falsehood?


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Destitution has more than doubled in the UK – in just the last five years

Need a miracle: but people in poverty won’t get it from the Tories.

That’s right – according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, destitution has more than doubled in the UK, in the last five years alone.

Channel 4 has reported on this, as follows:

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Here are the headline findings of the report:

The full report may be downloaded here.


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UK poverty is at its worst for decades. It is a Tory policy that they’re not about to reverse


One in five of the UK population is living in poverty, more children and pensioners are in poverty now than five years ago, working single parents have been swept fastest into poverty and in-work poverty is on the rise.

That catalogue of calamity is the legacy of all the Conservative and Tory-led governments of the last 10 years, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

And Labour has had the sense to bring the main points to the attention of the public.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margaret Greenwood said: “This report should be a wake-up call for the government.

“Too many people are trapped in low paid insecure work and all too often the social security system fails to give people the support they need.

“The government should make tackling poverty a top priority by providing a living wage of at least £10 an hour for all workers aged 16 and over and create a social security system that treats people with respect and is there for any one of us in our time of need.”

That was Labour’s policy at the last election, of course.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to get Labour policy enacted by the Tories but it will not happen.

The impoverishment of working people has been Tory policy since Margaret Thatcher, Nicholas Ridley and Keith Joseph drew up their plan to smash the power of the unions and hammer living standards back down below the poverty line, back in the 1970s.

Take away a worker’s security and he or she will accept any job at any price, becoming easy prey to exploitation by unscrupulous profiteers.

(So much for the ‘laissez-faire’ economics expounded by Thatcher’s neoliberal philosophy! They rigged it for their own benefit.)

The JRF has put forward its own policy solutions to poverty in the UK, as follows:

“We need as many people as possible to be in good jobs. While the proportion of people in employment has risen consistently for six years, weak local economies in some parts of the country have led to higher unemployment, underemployment and more low pay than in the UK as a whole. This needs to change, with prospects for people in struggling places needing to be prioritised, or progress will stall. In addition, employment among disabled people and carers is still low, and they should be supported to work when they can.

“We need to improve earnings for low-income working families, helping people in the lowest-paid jobs or working part-time. Too many people are stuck in low-paid, insecure jobs, with little chance of progression and too few hours of work to reach a decent living standard. Workers need more security, better training and opportunities to progress, particularly in part-time jobs. In-work poverty must be seen as a critical issue for our economy and given high priority by economic policy-makers.

“We need to strengthen the benefits system so that it provides the anchor that people need in tough times. The current system needs to be improved to ensure it gives adequate support. We also need the system to offer a better service for people using it, and to shift public thinking so that a poverty-fighting social security system is seen as an essential public service and receives sustainable investment.

“We need to increase the amount of low-cost housing available for families on low incomes, and increase support for people with high housing costs. We also need to address the sense of insecurity felt by many people living in the private rented sector.”

Castles in the air.

The Conservatives spent nearly 50 years getting poverty up to the current level.

They’re hardly going to reverse a policy that is working so well for them.

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Biased news: There ARE more families with people in work – but poverty is at an all-time high

We are entitled to expect a better quality of reporting than this from the BBC:

The proportion of households in the UK where no-one is working is at its lowest point for over 20 years, the Office for National Statistics says.

The figures show 14.3% of households containing working-age adults are “workless” – down 0.2% compared with the same point last year.

Fewer children were living in families where no-one was currently working.

The employment figures show a picture of rising levels of work in the 21 million households with people aged between 16 and 64.

There are fewer workless families now than at any point in a data series going back to 1996.

If you’re wondering what’s wrong with it, the answer is simple: No mention is made of the fact that there is more in-work poverty now than at any time in the UK’s recent history, due to the pay-less policies of the Conservative government.

In a tweet responding to the biased BBC report, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation stated: “Work should be a route out of poverty. It’s not right that despite the percentage of workless households being at a 20 year low, the percentage of households in poverty is at a 20 year high.”

The BBC’s bias is all the more shocking because the corporation claims to make a point of presenting both sides of any story.

What a fawning failure – sucking up to the Tories again.

Source: Fewer families where no-one working – BBC News

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The National Minimum Wage cannot provide an acceptable standard of living

150701minimumwage

A project aiming to define an ‘adequate’ income in the UK has shown that the National Minimum Wage falls far short of what is required, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The organisation’s research is based on what members of the public think is enough money to live on, to maintain a socially-acceptable quality of life, examining changes in living costs and the tax and benefits system. It compares incomes on benefits and on the National Minimum Wage to the ‘Minimum Income Standard’ (MIS).

According to the JRF, the cost of a decent standard of living, as defined by the public, has stopped rising for the first time since the recession began – but the gap between people’s incomes and the amount they need to cover their essential costs has widened greatly since 2008.

The figures generated by MIS are used to calculate the Living Wage outside London and assess the impact of public policy on people’s living standards. JRF research has also used it to explore how far Universal Credit will help people reach an adequate income.

Of particular interest will be the following image, showing the lie being fed to us by the Conservative Government with its benefit cap. It seems a couple with two children need to receive £20,000 each to meet the Minimum Income Standard – while the Tories say £23,000 in total is enough.

150701earningsperyear

For completeness, here’s the JRF’s graph showing how far short the system falls, for people on particular out-of-work benefits:

150701benefitsgap

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Cameron’s delight: school pupils suffering ‘Victorian conditions’

15022013m-in-poverty-half-in-working-households_JRF

Don’t you just hate it when politicians rig the statistics to show ‘facts’ that are demonstrably untrue?

According to the Conservative Party, the number of children in poverty has fallen by 300,000 under the Coalition Government – but poverty is measured as a percentage of average income; when the nation’s average income drops, poverty is said to have dropped as well, even though this is clearly untrue.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, “Those with less than 60 per cent of median income are classified as poor. This ‘poverty line’ is the agreed international measure used throughout the European Union.”

Here in the UK, wages have suffered their longest-sustained fall for no less than 150 years.

Average incomes in the years up to 2012. Source: ONS.

Average incomes in the years up to 2012. This is the most up-to-date graph I have. Source: ONS.

So no wonder the BBC and the Mirror are reporting that children are arriving at school in “Victorian squalor”. This is what the Coalition Government wants.

The BBC reported: “Claims about poverty in the school-age population will be heard at the NASUWT teachers’ union annual conference in Cardiff. The union asked members for their experiences and received almost 2,500 responses. It was not a representative sample of teachers, but among those replying more than two in three reported seeing pupils come to school hungry.

“Almost one in four of the teachers who responded said they had brought in food for pupils who were hungry, and an even higher proportion had seen the school feeding pupils.

“More than three in four had seen pupils arriving at school with “inappropriate clothing” such as no socks or coats in bad weather.

“Similar numbers claimed that a bad diet meant that pupils were unable to concentrate on their work.”

The Liberal Democrats said they had helped families by introducing free school meals for all infant children. That’s the caring side of the Coalition Government for you. Rather than sort out the underlying problems – that they created – they put a patch on it and say it’s solved.

Meanwhile, a Tory spokesman said – get this: “Because of our policies, there are more jobs than ever before, wages are rising faster than prices and with the lowest inflation on record, family budgets are starting to go further. The NASUWT should recognise how the Conservatives have rescued the economy, and through that, delivering the jobs that secure a better future for families.”

Jobs that pay far too little to make any real difference – 28 per cent of them are on insecure zero-hours contracts.

Who do these selfish toffs think they’re fooling?

130617childpoverty

We must get rid of them before they cause any more harm to our children.

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‘One in four people will be in poverty by 2040’

Poverty rates by 2040, according to the JRF: The different levels, marked out by differently-coloured bars, show the effect if social rents rise at one per cent above inflation per year, or to meet market values.

Poverty rates by 2040, according to the JRF: The different levels, marked out by differently-coloured bars, show the effect if social rents rise at one per cent above inflation per year, or to meet market values.

When a Conservative-run government messes up your life, it doesn’t go in for half measures!

Earlier today you all read how the Conservative Party had miscalculated – badly – the effect of its ‘welfare reforms’, meaning that people were being forced into expensive privately-rented accommodation by the Bedroom Tax, then claiming more in Housing Benefit because their wages were not rising fast enough to accommodate the increase.

(Wages have, of course, been held down because the government’s insistence on cutting the amount paid to the unemployed has created an underclass of people desperate to take any job available – meaning employers can brush off calls for wage rises by saying hundreds of other people would be happy to do these jobs for less.)

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has put flesh on the bones of these findings in a report published yesterday (November 17).

It states that “compared to 2008, private rents will rise by 90 per cent – more than twice as fast as incomes – pushing up to 50 per cent of private renters into poverty”. The average private rent today is £132 per week – it will be £250 per week in 2040 in real terms.

In addition:

  • “People who rent will be more than twice as likely to be living in poverty than homeowners.
  • “Private rents are forecast to rise by 90%, twice as fast as incomes.
  • “One in five (10.6 million people) will be living in private rented homes, up from 7.2 million today. Half of these, 5.7 million, will be in poverty (a rise of 2.6 million).
  • “One in 10 will be living in social housing, down from the current figure of 8.2 million to 5.7 million in 2040. Social rents will increase 39% to reach £92.10 per week in real terms.
  • “If social rents continue to rise towards market rates, the cost of Housing Benefit could rise by 125% – adding £20 billion to the current bill.
  • “Real median house prices for owners will increase to £263,000, a rise of 57%. 35.3 million people will be home owners by 2040 (a reduction of 820,000 people from 2008). Real household incomes will grow from £32,300 to £45,500.”

In light of these figures, JRF has called on the government and housing providers to work together to solve the housing crisis and keep poverty in check, saying poverty levels are likely to reach one in four by 2040.

“The reality facing many people is a life below the poverty line because of the extortionate cost of keeping a roof over your head,” said JRF chief executive Julia Unwin.

JRF reckons this growth in poverty can be contained if:

  • Housing supply doubles to more than 200,000 units a year;
  • Social rents continue to go up by inflation plus 1%, rather than move towards market rents;
  • Housing benefit continues to support housing costs at similar levels;
  • The fall in the proportion of affordable social housing in the overall market is halted.

Of course that is a forlorn hope under any Conservative-run government.

The increase in poverty levels to one in every four people should worry everyone – if it doesn’t affect you, then it will affect somebody in your family or somebody you know. It is clear that this is the intended result of Conservative-led government policy, and the Liberal Democrats have supported it.

Labour – on the other hand – already has a policy to increase housing by 200,000 units per year. It supports social housing. It wants to cap rent increases in the private sector, and its plan to cut the amount spent on housing benefit is based on increasing wages so that fewer people need it, rather than increasing the number of people who are homeless.

Which would you prefer?

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The minimum income is 2.5 times what people get on benefits – but still they are labelled scroungers

140630minimumincome

The numbers speak for themselves: Under ‘Adequacy of safety-net benefits’, EVERY SINGLE INCOME GROUP has lost out. While others have suffered a great percentage drop, single working-age people remain the least able to make ends meet.

“How much money do you need for an adequate standard of living?”

That is the question posed every year by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation – and every year the organisation calculates how much people have to earn – taking into account their family circumstances, the changing cost of these essentials and changes to the tax and benefit system – to reach this benchmark.

This year’s research finds:

A lone parent with one child now needs to earn more than £27,100 per year – up from £12,000 in 2008. A couple with two children need to earn more than £20,200 each, compared to £13,900 each in 2008. Single working-age people must now earn more than £16,200, up from £13,500 in 2008;

Despite social and economic change, the list of goods and services different families need to live to an adequate level is very similar to that of the original study in 2008 – but people’s ability to afford them has declined. Overall the cost of a basket of essential items has risen by a massive 28 per cent over six years – much higher than the 19 per cent rise claimed by the official Consumer Price Index – while average wages have increased by just nine per cent and the minimum wage 14 per cent;

Increased tax allowances have eased the pressure somewhat for some households, but the freeze to child benefit and ongoing cuts in tax credits have outweighed this for low-earning families with children.

Out-of-work benefits have fallen further and now provide just 39 per cent of what single, working-age people need to reach a Minimum Income Standard.

On the other hand, pensioner couples who claim all their allowances receive 95 per cent of the amount required.

The bottom line is that the Conservative-led government has been hammering the working poor and people on benefits, while claiming to be helping them. The minimum income necessary for an adequate living standard, according to JRF research, is no less than two-and-a-half-times what people on benefits receive. That is an appalling disparity in the sixth-richest country in the world.

It also creates a danger that more people will look to loan suppliers like the government’s favourite (Wonga) for short-term help – at the cost of going into disastrous long-term debt.

Slow earnings growth and price increases have made all households worse off on average, relative to the MIS, the report has found.

The conclusion is a disaster for the Coalition’s “hardworking” people: “In the past six years the more important determinants of whether low-income households can afford the minimum budget have been the increasing cost of living relative to earnings and benefit cuts for households in and out of work.

“For working families with children, if these cuts continue, the opportunity to reach an acceptable living standard may not improve, even as wages start rising again in real terms.”

And the Conservatives have the cheek to use the slogan “For hardworking people”.

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Iain Duncan Smith’s new plan to prolong child poverty

130617childpoverty

Iain Duncan Smith wants to talk about child poverty – but how can we take him seriously when he starts the discussion with a lie?

“Recent analysis reveals that children are three times as likely to be in poverty in a workless family and there are now fewer children living in workless households than at any time since records began, having fallen by 274,000 since 2010,” according to the Department for Work and Pensions’ press release on the new consultation.

Oh really?

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), child poverty will rise from 2.5 million to 3.2 million during the 2010-2015 Parliament – around 24 per cent of all the children in the UK. By 2020, if the rise is not stopped, it will increase to four million – around 30 per centof all children in the UK.

Under the Coalition government, the number of people in working families who are living in poverty – at 6.7 million – has exceeded the number in workless and retired families who are in poverty – 6.3 million – for the first time.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has measured poverty, using several indicators, for more than 15 years; its figures are far more likely to be accurate than those of the government, which is still defining poverty as an income of less than 60 per cent of median (average) earnings. Average earnings are falling, so fewer people are defined as being in poverty – but that doesn’t make the money in their pockets go any further.

“The previous government’s target to halve child poverty by 2010 was not achieved,” states the DWP press release. Then it comes out with more nonsense: “The government is committed to ending child poverty in the UK by 2020 and the draft child poverty strategy sets out the government’s commitment to tackle poverty at its source.” From the JRF figures alone, we know that government policy is worsening the situation – or has everyone forgotten that 80,000 children woke up homeless last Christmas morning?

shame

Let’s look at the government’s plans.

The DWP claims “reforming the welfare system through Universal Credit… will lift up to 300,000 children out of poverty, and cover 70 per cent of childcare costs for every hour worked”. But we know that Universal Credit is effectively a benefit cut for everyone put onto it; they won’t get as much as they do on the current benefits, and the one per cent uprating limit means falling further into poverty every year. Also, we found out this week that the housing element will be subject to sanctions if people in part-time jobs cannot persuade their employers to give them more hours of work. The claim is ridiculous.

The DWP claims the government will will increase investment in the Pupil Premium, provide free school meals for all infant school children from September this year, improve teacher quality, fund 15 hours of free early education places per week for all three- and four-year-old children and extend 15 hours of free education and care per week to two-year-olds from low income families. None of these measures will do anything to “tackle poverty at its source”. Tackling poverty at its source means ending the causes of poverty, not putting crude metaphorical sticking-plasters over the effects – which could be removed at any time in the future.

The DWP claims the government will cut tax for 25 million people by increasing the personal tax allowance, and cut income tax for those on the minimum wage by almost two-thirds. This means people will have more money in their pocket – but will it be enough, when benefit cuts and sanctions are taken into account? Will their pay increase with the rate of inflation? There is no guarantee that it will. And this move means the government will collect less tax, limiting its ability to provide services such as poverty-reduction measures.

The DWP claims the government will reduce water and fuel costs, and attack housing costs by building more homes. The first two measures may be seen as responses to aggressive policy-making by the Labour Party, and the last will only improve matters if the new dwellings are provided as social housing. Much of the extra spending commitment is made for 2015 onwards, when the Conservative-led Coalition may not even be in office.

These are plans to prolong poverty, not end it.

It is notable that the DWP press release repeats many of the proposals in an attempt to pretend it is doing more. Take a look at the list and count for yourself the number of times it mentions fuel/energy bills (three times) and free school meals (twice).

In fact, the only measures that are likely to help reduce the causes of poverty are far down the list: Increasing access to affordable credit by expanding credit unions and cracking down on payday lending (at the very bottom – and we’ll have to see whether this really happens because payday lenders are generous donors to the Conservative party); and reviewing – mark that word, ‘reviewing’ – the national minimum wage, meaning that the government might increase the minimum wage in accordance with Low Pay Commission recommendations.

The DWP press release quotes Iain Duncan Smith, who said the consultation re-states the government’s commitment to tackle poverty at its source, “be it worklessness, family breakdown, educational failure, addiction or debt”.

The measures he has proposed will not improve anybody’s chance of finding a job, nor will they prevent family breakdown, or addiction. The plans for education have yet to be tested and may not work. The plan for debt involves annoying Conservative Party donors.

The JRF has responded to the consultation diplomatically, but there can be no mistaking the impatience behind the words of Chris Goulden, head of poverty research. He said: “Given that it has been over a year since the initial consultation on child poverty measures, we are disappointed that the government is now going to take even longer to agree what those indicators will be.

“With one in four families expected to be in poverty by 2020, a renewed strategy to address child poverty is vital. Any effective strategy should be based on evidence and contain measures to reduce the cost of living and improve family incomes. However, until those measures are agreed, it is difficult to see how the government can move forward.”

Don’t be too concerned about moving forward, Chris.

This government is backsliding.

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Church v (Secretary-in-a-) State over social ‘reform’

Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols, who has attacked fellow Catholic Iain Duncan Smith's benefit cuts as a "disgrace". [Image: Liverpool Echo]

Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols, who has attacked fellow Catholic Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit cuts as a “disgrace”. [Image: Liverpool Echo]

Does anybody else have the feeling that Vincent Nichols, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, was only waiting for the Pope to name him a Cardinal-designate before sinking his teeth into the UK’s Conservative-led Coalition government?

One gets the impression he feels secure that the new position means his words now carry sufficient weight – and they are weighty words indeed.

“People do understand that we do need to tighten our belts and be much more responsible and careful in public expenditure,” said the Archbishop to the Telegraph.

“But I think what is happening is two things: one is that the basic safety net that was there to guarantee that people would not be left in hunger or in destitution has actually been torn apart.

“It no longer exists and that is a real, real dramatic crisis.

“And the second is that, in this context, the administration of social assistance, I am told, has become more and more punitive.

“So if applicants don’t get it right then they have to wait for 10 days, for two weeks with nothing – with nothing.

“For a country of our affluence, that quite frankly is a disgrace.”

“Hunger”, “destitution”, “crisis” – “a disgrace”. You cannot accuse this man of mincing his words!

They come almost a year after the (Anglican) Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, together with the Archbishop of York and 43 bishops, launched their own attack on changes to social security, saying they would have a “deeply disproportionate” effect on children and families.

Mr Welby had himself only recently taken the Church of England’s most senior office.

Speaking to the Telegraph on March 9 last year, 12 days before his enthronement, he said: “As a civilised society, we have a duty to support those among us who are vulnerable and in need. When times are hard, that duty should be felt more than ever, not disappear or diminish.

“It is essential that we have a welfare system that responds to need and recognises the rising costs of food, fuel and housing.

“These changes will mean it is children and families who will pay the price … rather than the Government.”

The Department for Work and Pensions laughed off Mr Welby’s concerns.

But Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of (or “in a”) State for Work and Pensions, is – or is at least supposed to be – a devout Catholic. How could he ignore such harsh criticism from the most senior member of his Church in the United Kingdom?

Very easily, it seems.

Iain Duncan Smith has not deigned to respond. Perhaps he has a belief – he does seem to rely on them a lot, now, doesn’t he? – that he is doing more for the people of this country than the Archbishops. There’s a word for this condition that’s slipping my mind for a moment… no – I’ve got it.

A ‘Messiah’ complex – a state of mind in which an individual holds a belief that they are, or are destined to become, a saviour.

‘Messiah’ trumps ‘Archbishop’ so IDS has chosen to ascend above the debate, leaving its resolution to his trusty DWP spokesperson, who came out with the usual lies.

“Our welfare reforms will transform the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities with Universal Credit making three million households better off and lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty,” wittered the spokesperson.

To disprove these words, let’s turn to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the social policy research charity that seeks to understand the causes of social problems, identify ways of overcoming them, and show how social needs can be met. This organisation has stated – repeatedly – that Universal Credit in its current form will create “increased risks of budgeting problems, debt, arrears and ultimately financial exclusion”.

The same organisation quotes research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) which states that, under current Coalition government policies, rather than hundreds of thousands of children being lifted out of poverty, by 2020 more than one million more children will be in poverty than when the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats slithered into office by the back door in 2010.

So who do you believe? Come to that, what does Iain Duncan Smith really believe?

The DWP spokesperson said: “It’s wrong to talk of removing a safety net when we’re spending 94bn a year on working age benefits and the welfare system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed so they can meet their basic needs.”

But we know that Iain Duncan Smith has inflicted £28 billion of cuts on people receiving benefits from his Department for Work and Pensions. If another IFS statement – that this represents only two-fifths of the Coalition’s cuts plan – is accurate, then the total amount he’ll want to cut is a staggering £70 billion.

And he wants his people to talk about the money he’s spending, rather than the effect he’s having. So, what does he believe?

He believes in Mammon.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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