Poverty & work
On BBC Radio 4's Today Programme (20/5/01), a government
spokesman was asked about the government's commitment to reducing
poverty. He said the answer was to "get people
into work". No response from the BBC presenter
presumably due to ignorance of the following...
Poverty levels actually increased during the 1990s when an
increasing proportion of the population got jobs. Creating
jobs doesn't cure poverty if 90% of the jobs created pay poverty-level
According to a study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation:
"Even with a minimum wage in force,
many families will still find that their household earnings
are not adequate to lift the household out of poverty."
Another study by the same foundation concludes that "even
if full employment were achieved, poverty and exclusion would
not disappear. Earnings can be too low."
The government boasted that its Working Families Tax Credit
will help remove poverty. This is essentially welfare
(under a different name) for people with low-paid jobs. So,
it's not the increased number of jobs that will reduce poverty,
it's the fact that people with jobs are more likely to get
increases in welfare than people without jobs.
Poverty statistics (sourced May 2001):
In 1983, 14% of UK households lived in poverty. That
proportion increased to 21% in 1990, and to 26% by the end
of 1999. (Meanwhile, unemployment in 1999 was at the lowest
level for 20 years.)
One in six British people are considered to be living
in "absolute poverty" as defined by the United Nations.
9.5 million people in Britain today cannot afford
adequate housing conditions.
A 2000 government report estimated that 1 in 3 UK
children lives in poverty.