Lifting people out of Poverty

There is an absoutely fascinating article by Frazer Nelson,which appeared in the Telegraph this week and is accessible on their website here, called

"Sticking with Gordon Brown’s flawed policy keeps people in poverty."

It begins with the inspiring story of Stephen Stubbs, a partially sighted 47-year-old living in Darlington, who was being followed by a television crew documenting how hard it is to find work. Stephen applied for 2,000 jobs rather than sit back and accept life on benefits.

But eventually his persistence was rewarded, and he did find a position. As the article saya,

"The idea of a 4pm-2am shift working for the Student Loans Company might dismay many of us, but Mr Stubbs spoke as if he’d won the lottery. “If I can do it, anyone can,” he told Channel 4’s cameras."

Nelson's article goes on to identify a problem with the definition of Poverty in the Child Poverty Act, an piece of law, incidentally, which the Labour MP for Copeland claims his contribution towards as one of his major achievements but which Nelson says has an agenda at it's heart which

"has arguably done more damage to Britain’s social fabric than any idea in modern history."

He continues,

"It is based on the Eurostat definition of poverty: an income 40 per cent below the national average. Someone who is nudged just above this threshold, with an extra £10 a week, is deemed to be “lifted out of poverty”, although the people concerned would be astounded to hear themselves so described. If they had a family, then their children would be described as being “lifted out of poverty”. So, by precision-bombing the right people with tax credits, you could claim to have lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty."

Nelson's argument is that far too much of government policy is based on lifting the people who are just below this threshold to just above it, and not enough towards addressing the real causes of poverty - by sorting out "Education, Work, and Family."

He quotes studies such as that by William Galston

"a political theorist behind the Clinton-era welfare reforms. He identified three steps to escaping poverty: finish school, avoid teenage parenthood, get married before having children. Among those who did all three, only 8 per cent were poor. Of those who did none, 79 per cent were poor."

He concludes that

"In the last seven years of the Labour government, £150 billion was spent on tax credits. Never in British history had more been spent trying to tackle deprivation, which makes the failure to make headway all the more tragic.

"Labour fought poverty, and poverty won.

"Switching from the old, failed model of poverty to a newer one, with all of its uncertainties, is a shift that needs to happen across government. As Stephen Stubbs may well attest, successes in welfare reform deserve to be reinforced."


Jim said…
Was it Maggie who said "the problem with socialists is they always run out of other peoples money"?

I don't remember if it was or not but its true, You really can not borrow your way out of debt.

Opinions may vary on what should be cut and what should not, but on the whole really everyone knows, cuts must come.

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