Poverty:Is Iain Duncan Smiths proposal a self fulfilling prophecy?

Posted: June 14, 2012 in Discussion, Opinions, Political, Society, Uncategorized
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Iain Duncan Smith  (IDS) has suggested that “tackling poverty is not just about giving people more money through state benefits” it is about getting people back into work, and supporting them. As I interpret it, a re-fashioning of society where the emphasis is on government supporting those who make the effort to help themselves; a utopia. One view is that if you do give people more money through state benefit, that money returned to government through taxation. Another being, where will the extra money come from in the first instance?

What IDS is talking about is one aspect of poverty referred to as “relative poverty”. Described by almost everybody’s favourite reference site “Wikipedia” as, “…a measure of income inequality”; “…measured as the percentage of population with income less than some proportion of median income.” The definition of relative poverty in the United Kingdom (UK)  is “less than 60% of the typical income“, to contextualize this, the median salary in 2011 was £26244 therefore if one earned less than £15746 one was living in relative poverty.

If a family has less than 60 percent of the median income it is said to be poor, if it has 60 percent or more it is not” in effect IDS is removing people out of relative poverty in one sentence; or is he just using poor as a metaphor?

To hypothesise using quoted figures of one parent out of a partnership working 35 hours at minimum wage (35 hours * £6.19 *4.33 * 12 (months) = £11257), approximately (£15746 – £11257) £4507 in universal credit would be required just to stop one being poor, instead of the government paying out £15746 in benefits.

In principle reducing benefit payments by roughly 72% (using above figures) sounds wonderful and would certainly facilitate the redistribution of government monies easier.

Yet with 8.2% of the population eligible to work currently unemployed, 2.63 million people not contributing to government coffers, for whatever reason: in addition approximately 4000 troops made redundant from the forces. Where does IDS propose employment will come from?

But IDS is leaving something out here, a point that he is very well aware of and to me does hold its own in relation to relative poverty. It is this: what is the government doing to address the absolute poverty that is a real and present issue within the UK today?

An extremely powerful, thought-provoking article, “I don’t feel human’ Experiences of destitution among young refugees and migrants” makes me wonder where our priorities should stand.

Should we be looking at helping those with nothing?

The whole moral and ethical debate as to why, and how, and whose to blame for the refugees and migrants in the UK today can, like “Norton antivirus“, run unobtrusively in the background but there needs positive action by the powers that be to address this issue.


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